A gat, Guam, Western Pacific ... [ANN] "Asian listeners will be able to hear Adventist World Radio again by Christmas day," said Elvin Vence today. Vence is chief engineer at the station on Guam, which was devastated by the "worst typhoon in 30 years" on December 15 and 16, last week. "All the AWR staff are safe and uninjured," Vence said.

Typhoon Paka, packing sustained winds of 155 miles per hour and gusts up to 180 miles an hour, moved straight across the island, leaving 3,000 families without homes, ripping metal roofs off buildings, uprooting thousands of trees, destroying 3,000 homes. Vence said that even Super Typhoon Omar, which slammed into the island in 1992, did not do as much damage island wide. There are long lines at gas stations, and lots of trees and plants obstructing roads.

"Most of the island is without power and water," said Vence, "and likely to remain so for some time." However, he said, AWR-Asia has both: The station pipes water from a nearby spring, and has an emergency generator that can power the station, including its four 100-kilowatt transmitters and four antennas. The antennas all sustained damage: "High winds and flying debris take their toll on the aluminum cables and ceramic insulators," said Vence, but expected to be on the air with one transmitter by Christmas day. "It will take about a week per antenna for repairs, so we should be on the air with all four transmitters by mid January," he said.

Vence also reported that the station building came through in "fine shape."  Sturdy steel shutters seal the windows against water and wind. "At the end of the broadcast schedule at noon on Tuesday, we shut down the transmitters and station power and secured the station against the storm," reported Norman Hansen today.  Hansen is assistant chief engineer. "The antennas had begun to show distortion because of the storm, and we decided to conserve fuel." The generator was turned on again today and will continue to supply the station’s power until island power is restored.

Other related damage include the home of AWR-Asia staff member Ben Sumicad. The metal roof blew completely off the house, he reported. He and his family had moved into the Guam Micronesia Mission office during the storm.  The Mission office also suffered some damage, as did the Agat Seventh-day Adventist Church. Built with the help of radio station staff who are members there, the church lost the roof over the sanctuary, leaving pews, carpet, a piano and organ exposed to the elements. "We’ve invited the Agat Church to have it’s service in the station conference room this week," said Hansen. "We’ll be thanking God for his protection during the storm."

Adventist World Radio, on the air since March 1987 from Guam, currently broadcasts 332 hours a week in 27 languages from this site. Results of these broadcasts, which have as a potential audience half the world’s population, include thousands of baptisms, hundreds of house churches and new congregations of believers throughout the region.

"We feel God has truly used this powerful radio ministry to reach millions of people," says Don Jacobsen, AWR president. "We are very grateful today that the AWR staff and the people of Guam are safe, and we are happy that the station will be back in full operation early in January." [Andrea Steele]