AGANA, Guam -- Typhoon Roy lashed Guam with 135 mph gusts and more than 20-foot waves Tuesday, plunging the Pacific island into a blackout and causing about $6 million damage to homes, tropical fruit crops and roads.
The 300-mile-wide storm, the biggest typhoon to hit Guam since 1976, later moved west to northwest of the island in an expanse of Pacific Ocean nicknamed 'Typhoon Valley' by meteorologists.
The National Weather Service said Roy was 200 miles northwest of Guam by 10 p.m. EST, packing gusts of up to 150 mph. Moving across the Pacific at about 12 mph, Roy was not expected to threaten any land mass within the next three days, the weather service said.
Guam Gov. Joseph Ada said hundreds of homes were damaged, dozens seriously. He said the island's tropical fruit crops 'appeared to be totally damaged and the disaster would costs millions of dollars to repair.'
U.S. servicemen from Anderson Air Force Base said they saw damage at several buildings. The facility's metal-plated warehouses and ground support buildings are especially vulnerable to typhoons.
Officials also reported heavy damage in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, north of Guam.
Only one injury, an elderly woman who slipped going into a typhoon shelter, was reported. Roy claimed at least one life when it raked the Marshall Islands southeast of Guam earlier this week.
'The typhoon was very erratic,' said Hughe Williams, spokesman for Guam's civil defense office. 'The winds speeded up, then decreased as the storm hit us.
'The approach also was different. It came in at a high speed but managed to pick up steam instead of blowing itself out like most typhoons,' Williams said.
Meterologists said the center of Roy came within 35 miles of Guam, hitting the U.S. territory of 115,000 residents with sustained winds of 120 mph and gusts of up to 135 mph. Storm tides were 20 to 26 feet high, Williams said.
Gov. Joseph Ada made an emergency radio broadcast to reassure the public and said he would seek to have Guam declared a federal disaster area. Guam Radio said the official preliminary estimate of the damage was $6 million.
The full fury of Roy began to be felt at midday. The typhoon ripped tin rooftops off scores of homes, uprooted coconut trees and tropical fruit fields, flooded low-lying areas and major thoroughfares and downed power lines, plunging Guam into darkness when authorities cut off power to eliminate danger caused by the downed lines.
Rain lashed the island in blinding, horizontal sheets as the tin-plated roofs spun dangerously through the high winds, residents said.
Williams said more than 1,000 people were evacuated to emergency shelters set up in 12 concrete school buildings throughout the island. Authorities said 600 Japanese exchange students also were forced to take shelter in a hotel.
'We were lucky we had so many people in the shelters, otherwise there probably would have been a lot of injuries,' Williams said.
The 115,000 residents of Guam had ample warning of Roy's arrival and began battening down and storing water in bathtubs Monday. All schools and businesses were closed and boarded up and all commercial flights were canceled.
Andersen Air Force Base, the largest U.S. military facility in the central Pacific, declared an emergency Monday, prohibiting all air traffic and ordering its personnel to stay indoors. Air Force planes were flown to other U.S. Pacific bases to protect them.
Guam, about halfway between Hawaii and the Asian mainland, is the largest of the Mariana Islands and an unincorporated territory of the United States. Its residents are U.S. citizens.
Williams said Roy was the worst typhoon to hit Guam since legendary Typhoon Tamela in 1976, which flattened the island with 200 mph winds. Weathermen later retired Tamela from the list of names given to typhoons.