Residents living in low-lying villages are now suffering not only from consistent flooding in their areas, but are also exposed to some health risks due to sewer system backflows.
Bureau of Environmental Health director John Tagabuel disclosed to Saipan Tribune yesterday that since last week, the agency has been receiving numerous calls from families who are seeking assistance either through BEH assessment of their home condition or temporary relocation to safer grounds.
Tagabuel confirmed that two indigent families have already been advised by BEH to temporarily relocate due to the threat of diseases to the children and elderly as a result of their exposure to saturated waste pool that flows from septic tanks or sewer system in their own residences or from nearby areas.
BEH inspectors, he said, immediately respond to complaints and are always on standby ready to assist families, especially during heavy downpour.
According to Tagabuel, many private residents have defective septic tanks which water flows directly to their houses or areas within their homes. This situation, he said, is evident during the rainy season. But Tagabuel admitted that because of successive downpours since last week, the situation has become critical now than before. BEH received most complaints from the Kagman area.
The director explained that in a situation like this, BEH makes assessment on the affected homes and makes a determination if there's a need to relocate families to safer ground. Most of those affected, he said, are indigent families who have no resources to immediately relocate to apartments or any place for safety.
He revealed that some non-government organizations like the CNMI Red Cross Chapter are always on standby to assist affected families.
Tagabuel disclosed that if heavy rains continue, there will be greater impact to low-lying areas such as Chalan Laulau all the way to the San Antonio area, even if residents have good septic tanks. BEH, he said, is ready to provide assistance.
He revealed that the absence of a good drainage system in many homestead areas also contribute to the problem as well as the ongoing road projects near the area.
Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. CEO Juan N. Babauta confirmed with Saipan Tribune that BEH is responding to numerous requests to “assess conditions of liveability of private homes.”
Babauta disclosed that the health issues are neither from defective system or saturated ground waste pool or ponding basins.
The BEH, the CEO said, has placed bureau inspectors on “ready status” to respond to any further calls from the general public to assist during this inclement weather.
Babauta said Tagabuel, with the assistance of Public Health Risk Communicators, will soon issue a “mosquito and leptospirosis advisory” for public dissemination and notice.