EOC: 384 houses were destroyed

– ARC assesses 808 affected houses
– Torres says no shortage of fuel, food yet

According to the initial assessment made by the Emergency Operations Center, some 384 houses on Saipan were destroyed when Typhoon Soudelor slammed into the Commonwealth early Monday morning.

In a separate interview, the American Red Cross-NMI Chapter, which did its own preliminary damage assessment, placed the initial number of affected homes at 808.

Executive director John Hirsh broke down this total to 158 destroyed houses, 296 that suffered major damage, 176 with minor damage, and 178 that were affected.

According to Hirsh, this does not yet include damaged homes on Capitol Hill and Tinian. He added that they would be sending a team to Tinian to assess damage as well.

Aside from this data from their trained assessment volunteers, the American Red Cross also received reports from 854 heads of households that are seeking assistance. Hirsh expects this number to increase.

Torres reminded those that are affected to document the damage in their homes as much as they can for them to be able to have a chance at reimbursement if President Barack Obama approves the request of the CNMI government to acknowledge the disaster in the Commonwealth and make a Presidential declaration that a major disaster exists.

The letter that was sent to the White House asks for both public and individual assistance as well as hazard mitigation.

“Take lots of pictures. I cannot emphasize how much, take millions of pictures if that’s what it takes and start your repair. That is the only way that FEMA and the local here can work together to assure you that the ability to reimburse is the highest. Otherwise I cannot tell you right now without the approval of the President,” Torres said.

“It is important to get documentation if things are going to change. Get documentation whether its pictures or whatever else can be done, invoices, copies of receipts from contractors, copies of receipts from purchases of wood glass roofing materials, whatever it is, will only serve the reimbursement,” federal coordinating officer supporting the Incident Management Assistance Team leader Steven DeBlasio said.

No shortage of fuel, food

Torres said there is no shortage of fuel and food in the island so far.

“There is no shortage of fuel; however, we are looking at long lines because people just want to make sure that they have gas,” he said.

Torres said they will meet with the Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands to discuss food supply in hotels.

“For the community, there is no information as of yet of shortfall of food but obviously because there is no power, a lot of frozen items are going to waste,” Torres said.

Thankful to Guam

Via teleconference with Guam, Torres thanked the CNMI’s neighboring island of Guam for their help.

“I’d like to thank the Governor of Guam, Gov. Calvo, Lt. Gov. Tenorio, on giving support on our issues. They are coordinating and reaching out on what we need to expedite our recovery,” Torres said.

“In behalf of Gov. Calvo, Lt. Gov. Tenorio, we’re here to help. To what degree, it’s just a matter of defining that between ourselves,” Brig. Gen. Johnny Lizama of Guam’s HSEM said.

Plea for patience

Torres also asked the public for their continued support and patience as relief efforts are being established.

“I know our people are suffering and I feel that. I ask for your continued support and your patience and understanding as our government move forward into addressing our issues, as we move forward to restore the CNMI. We need everyone’s contribution and so with your contribution I’m sure that we’ll get back to our feet,” said Torres.

Torres acknowledged that this is the hardest time for the Commonwealth. “This is the hardest time that our CNMI has gone through—our last month’s ordeal from the breakage…of communications, the typhoons, and now this.”

Special Assistant for Homeland Security and Emergency Management Marvin Seman reiterated the same sentiment.

“We have gone through a major disaster as we can all see and that experience has challenged the community. So let’s come together as one, support the administration, support one another, so we can go back to restoration and normal life as quickly as possible,” Seman said.

Frauleine S. Villanueva-Dizon | Reporter
Frauleine Michelle S. Villanueva was a broadcast news producer in the Philippines before moving to the CNMI to pursue becoming a print journalist. She is interested in weather and environmental reporting but is an all-around writer. She graduated cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Journalism and was a sportswriter in the student publication.

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