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GUAM — Typhoon Chaba did more than just minor damage to Guam as it hit the island Sunday: It also left many service industries disappointed over the USS Kitty Hawk’s early departure.

The carrier pulled into Guam’s Apra Harbor on Aug. 19 for a scheduled port visit but the approaching typhoon prompted its departure Saturday. Kitty Hawk was supposed to stay until at least Monday or Tuesday to give its 5,000 sailors time to rest, explore Guam and divest themselves of some of the hard-earned pay that can’t be spent at sea.

“Normally on a four-day stay there would be $2.5 [million] to $3 million spent on the local economy plus the supplies taken on by the ship,” said Jim Adkins, Armed Forces Committee chairperson for the Guam Chamber of Commerce.

“Sailors enjoy visiting Guam where there are American restaurants, movies and everyone speaks English and uses U.S. money.”

Among businesses seeing increased sales when the Kitty Hawk visits is the car-rental industry. Christine Perez, Toyota Rent-A-Car and Leasing supervisor, said her office had to increase its fleet of cars to accommodate for all the sailors. She said Toyota Rent-a-Car usually rents out all its cars and enjoys an increase in sales when the Kitty Hawk visits.

“Unfortunately, they had to leave early so they didn’t give us dramatic sales for the specific days,” she said. “I wish they could have stayed longer but Mother Nature — what can you do about it?”

One of the places sailors often drive to in those rental cars is Micronesia Mall. Typhoon Chaba stung mall merchants, said Fred Yamon the mall’s assistant general manager.

“We were quite dismayed. We expected more revenue.”

Jason Burnett, Holiday Inn Resort general manager, said he also was disappointed in the shortened Kitty Hawk visit.

“The hotel has an expectation that, when the Kitty Hawk comes in ... we are able to see an increase in potential business,” he said.

But he also acknowledged the futility of trying to argue with the weather. “In a natural disaster like the typhoon you have to have an open mind,” he said. “It would have been nice if they would have stayed on a little bit longer but you can’t control nature’s forces.”

Burnett said he sympathized with sailors whose visit was cut short, especially those meeting family while on the island.

Adkins already was anticipating the future. “We hope to have more visits from carrier battle groups and other ships that pass our way,” he said, “as they all help revive our economy that has about 14 percent unemployment.”


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