Hegland: FEMA to shoulder volunteer builders’ plane tickets

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will help shoulder the airfare of volunteer builders that will help rebuild the homes of eligible families that were affected by Typhoon Soudelor last year.

Commonwealth Advocates for Recovery Efforts director Jenny Hegland said there are about 120 families that are eligible for the program. These are the same families that were qualified to receive FEMA assistance.

CARE held a general meeting yesterday at the Governor’s Office conference room to provide reports on the various projects that each committee had been doing in the recovery efforts.

CARE and the American Red Cross, through the disaster case management, worked in providing all necessary information to the CNMI government, which submitted the request to FEMA which will then help pay the volunteers’ airfare to come to Saipan.

Hegland said the FEMA invitational travel program is valued at $250,000. CARE would administer the program with FEMA providing a rotating group of volunteer builders and support crew for the next two years.

The program is under FEMA Region 9 that is composed of the states of Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Nevada and the U.S. territories of the American Samoa, the CNMI, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

CARE would still shoulder the cost of buying the materials and other resources that will be used by the volunteer laborers. CARE also sought the Marianas Public Land Trust for additional funding in helping repair the homes of the families, who are of Northern Marianas descent.

Hegland, however, added that there are about 300 families that are not eligible for the project mostly made up of those who did not qualify to receive assistance from FEMA. “But we’re strategizing how to get funds to help them with the repairs and rebuild, and for resource development.”

She added they are still waiting for the response from the Saipan and Northern Island Legislative Delegation on CARE’s request for additional funding. Hegland and CARE president Alex Sablan made a presentation to SNILD members last March to help in rebuilding some of the homes.

“Gov. [Ralph DLG] Torres is also requesting the Legislature to appropriate $300,000 from the proposed budget in the new fiscal year. The money would help the families that are not eligible for the FEMA assistance,” said Hegland.

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Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez has been covering local and international sports events for more than 15 years. His sports writing career started when he joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, when he was in college.

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