MORE THAN 3 MONTHS AFTER SOUDELOR
More than three months after Typhoon Soudelor devastated Saipan, many residents still have no roofs above their heads.
“There are still 120 families without a home,” said Weston Thomas A. Deleon Guerrero, Department of Public Works acting building safety official, at a Commonwealth Advocates for Recovery Efforts meeting last Tuesday.
He also shared temporary housing solutions to address those left homeless after the typhoon’s wrath.
Members of the CARE construction sub-committee hinted at converting and using abandoned buildings such as those in Lower MIHA housing in Garapan and many privately owned abandoned buildings around the island.
“These are some good options. An investor right now would like to bring pre-fabricated homes to be staged at [the] Garapan Public Market so that people can see what works for them, see the design and also so that we can see if it’s up to code. The investor is hoping to have this done by February of next year,” he said.
Deleon Guerrero stated the costs of the pre-fabricated homes have not been released yet and will depend on specifications that must be approved. However, he said the smallest house size allowed is 600 sq. ft.
“People have to understand that earthquakes, flooding, and winds affect the home,” he said, “and we want to build safer, stronger homes for the community.”
He said the DPW Building Code Safety Division should be informed before the start of any construction.
“Some people are scared to come in to ask for help because they think we will stop their progress but we just want to make sure it’s safe before they build it the same way again or in a worse condition,” he said.
According to volunteers actively involved in direct relief, these affordable temporary solutions were proposed at the initial weeks of Typhoon Soudelor, or about three months ago with possible pre-fabricated homes for as little as $75 to $500 so as to provide housing for those having to leave the shelters, those living in homes invaded by mold or given inadequate assistance by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and/or the Small Business Administration. They said that many are still homeless or living in unsafe and unsanitary conditions.
Saipan Tribune reported yesterday that many people are being waitlisted for the construction of their homes, with many being told to wait until next year. Reportedly, there are only nine contractors working with CARE, many of which have only two to three employees performing construction work.