20-year-old house damaged by Soudelor razed

Off-island volunteers to help build new typhoon-proof home

Volunteers from the Commonwealth Advocates for Recovery Efforts demolished last Oct. 1 an approximately 20-year-old house in Koblerville that was severely damaged and rendered unsanitary by Typhoon Soudelor last year, giving way for the Mennonite Disaster Services to construct a new home.

CARE director Jenny Hegland said the house is one of many that have received priority as the owner has medical disabilities.

“This is the home of one of our Red Cross disaster case management clients. This client has been prioritized because she has a medical disability and her house is unsafe, so through the CARE repair and rebuilding program, we would be constructing a new house,” she said.

The old house would have to be demolished completely before the Mennonite Disaster Services could come in and build the new house, Hegland said.

“We would need to demolish this old house because it is very unsafe and unsanitary. There are about 30 volunteers that are here so that the Mennonite Disaster Services team can get started on the new rebuild next week,” said Hegland.

Mennonite Disaster Service Saipan Project director Ed Buhler said that his team is ready to start the construction once the site is clean. “This will be a total demolition right down to the concrete piers, and then we would be starting fresh.”

Aside from the new house, the Mennonite Disaster Service would also be installing the plumbing but not the electrical. “We would probably be putting the plumbing, since there are only a few things that would need to be put in place and someone else would handle the electrical,” he said.

Steps will be taken to make the house last for more than 20 years and to withstand future typhoons.

“We’re going to follow the blueprints and the plans that have been presented to us, and at this time they are as typhoon-proof and hurricane-proof as you can build them,” said Buhler. “If you look at this home it was built 20 years ago, and since then the building materials have also increased in quality, so that would have a big effect on the building staying up for more than 20 years.”

Buhler said he is grateful to CARE and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the opportunity given to the Mennonite Disaster Service members.

“None of this could happen if it wasn’t for CARE and FEMA supplying the travel cost, as we are just here because of their invitation. This is a CARE and FEMA project, and we are just doing the labor for free,” said Buhler. “We’re enjoying the island and the support we are getting from the people. It’s been a great experience for all the volunteers that we’ve had here so far. We’re constantly rotating people every three weeks, and we have new ones coming in, so it’s been really good for everyone.”

Six Mennonite Disaster Service members would be working on the house, and it would probably take three weeks to rebuild the house, said Buhler.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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