Chuuk Experiencing Food and Water Shortage After Typhoon Maysak

(Weno, Chuuk) - Weeks after typhoon Maysak ripped through Chuuk lagoon, the locals are starting to feel the lasting effects of Maysak's devastation.

Most trees throughout the islands have been destroyed by Maysak's strong winds. (photo by: Takayuki Suenaga)

Most trees throughout the islands have been destroyed by Maysak's strong winds. (photo by: Takayuki Suenaga)

"The island looks brighter" said one local, a result of downed trees and broken branches. Areas that were once heavily covered by trees and other natural shades are now exposed.

"Most businesses [have ran out] of rice... I see a shortage of food", said a local informant. Most crops, including breadfruit, taro, and bananas were destroyed from the storm. Residents are now depending on imported canned goods, some frozen foods and imported sacks of rice. Imported rice is already a main staple in Chuuk, but the loss of local foods has increased demand.

Some of the reports from locals include:

  • "we are OK on canned meat and frozen food... the main shortage is rice... because the breadfruit trees and banana trees [are gone], our source of starch."
  • "My family has been eating [fermented breadfruit and fermented taro], there is no more breadfruit on island".
  • "People have already started rationing food, mostly rice."

Unconfirmed reports from Chuuk have said that most stores have sold all of their rice and others have increased their prices due to demand. "A 40 foot container of rice did not last a week" said one store manager.

The increase in prices would go against president Mori's presidential directive. Where he declared that, "In order to assure that those most affected by Typhoon Maysak are not negatively impacted by those who would profit by their misery, I am directing that the prices of all commodities throughout the Nation remain frozen at their pre-typhoon prices." As of this moment, we are unable to confirm the price gouging claims.

The FSM national government and the Chuuk State government have been working hard to distribute aid and supplies to all the affected areas. Some locals have reported that it is the government who is buying most of the rice and other goods so they can distribute it evenly throughout the islands.

Rice distribution. (photos by: Takayuki Suenaga)

Rice distribution. (photos by: Takayuki Suenaga)

There are also reports of water shortage. The storm either destroyed water tanks or contaminated them with flying debris. The IOM (International Organization for Migration) in conjunction with the USAID have been working hard to deliver relief goods including clean water, water tanks and reverse osmosis water materials to the islands that need them.

Though most locals support the efforts of the government and other agencies, some have been concerned. "If most of the rice is going [to help the other islands]... what about us on Weno? We need to eat too." However, further reports have indicated that food supplies are being distributed evenly.

Currently the islands have been receiving relief goods both from the government and from donations abroad. Because of these donations and the efforts of government agencies, as well as the resiliency of the people, most concerns have been quieted.

The general consensus from residents have been, "we'll be OK". 

To help donate to affected areas, please visit our Releif Hub.

(All photos by: Takayuki Suenaga)