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Arizona response team in Saipan to help after Super Typhoon Yutu

(Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management Photo)

PHOENIX – A team of 12 Arizona responders has been in Saipan aiding victims of the super typhoon that devastated the Pacific Ocean island in October.

The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management’s All Hazard Incident Management Team deployed to the largest of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. commonwealth, for a two-week assignment on Nov. 25.

“They’ve been working to provide temporary shelters to people that were displaced by Super Typhoon Yutu,” department spokeswoman Tiffany Davila told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday.

“Yutu hit the Northern Mariana Islands as a Category 5 storm in late October. The storm had winds up to 180 mph, destroyed several structures, including homes, schools and businesses.”

The powerful typhoon also hit the neighboring island of Tinian, overturning cars, crushing small planes and ripping off roofs on both islands. At least two fatalities were linked to the Yutu.

The All Hazard team is made up of Arizona Forestry staff as well as personnel from the Peoria, Scottsdale and Surprise fire departments and the Apache County Sheriff’s Office.

“They … have been working upon arrival in Saipan with the Forest Service [and] with FEMA to help those residents affected by the storm,” Davila said.

The Arizona responders relieved a team from California that completed a 14-day assignment of its own in Saipan, which has 50,000 residents.

A Coast Guard team will take over for the Arizonans when their deployment ends.

The All Hazard team springs into action to help communities affected by natural disasters such as wildfires, tornadoes, typhoons and hurricanes.

“We’re privileged and we’re humbled to help in any way that we can,” Davila said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report.

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