162 families still awaiting Soudelor assistance

More than two years after Typhoon Soudelor devastated Saipan, 162 families are still waiting for assistance, according to the Commonwealth Advocates of Recovery, or CARE, the agency spearheading the CNMI’s recovery efforts.

CARE director Jenny Hegland reported on the organization’s progress at the Saipan Chamber of Commerce meeting on Wednesday at the Kanoa Resort.

According to Hegland, 381 families have received assistance since Typhoon Soudelor hit the CNMI in August 2015.

Of that number, 155 families got help in repairing and rebuilding their homes, but there are still 162 families who are still waiting for aid rebuild their houses.

“It may look like we’re pretty much recovered, but that is not true for all families,” said Hegland.

According to Hegland, CARE estimates that it will need $1.5 million to assist the remaining 162 families. Some $500,000 can be leveraged in labor costs through the agencies that provide CARE with skilled volunteer workers, she said.

CARE works with different agencies such as Mennonite Disaster Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to get the volunteers needed to get the job done. It plans to pursue different strategies to acquire the remaining resources they would need, including asking the CNMI government for a second appropriation.

The organization also plans to pursue other federal grants and continues to seek financial support from local and international businesses as well as foundations.

CARE also welcomes partnerships with contractors and businesses on Saipan. According to Hegland, these businesses usually get their building materials in bulk. If the extra material is donated to CARE, this would definitely lower project costs for the organization.

According to Hegland, the organization will be using the same strategy to attain their funds as they did in the past. “Our strategy for acquiring the resources needed to help all the remaining families recover from Soudelor is a continuation of what has worked thus far, bringing more than $1.7 million in financial and in-kind support.”

Hegland said that the long-term recovery of the island depends on all partnerships that have been established, not just locally but internationally.

“It is public and private, local and federal, regional, national, and international. It relies on the capacity of each stakeholder while not overburdening any one sector disproportionally. Our community’s recovery models true partnership and demonstrates the power of local investment to leverage and multiply resources from the national and international community,” Hegland told Saipan Tribune.

KIMBERLY A. BAUTISTA Author

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