The Saipan Chamber of Commerce said they are collecting data to determine how many of their members also became victims of Super Typhoon Yutu that hit the islands of Saipan and Tinian last month. Local and federal agencies have also requested the data in order for them to provide better assistance to the business community.
SCC president Velma Palacios told Saipan Tribune that they know a lot of their members were affected either physically or economically, but they still managed to help their employees. “We don’t have actual data which is why we are conducting the survey.”
“We do know many of our membership have been impacted with physical damage to their businesses and employees losing their homes. Some businesses are also assisting their employees during this time through shelters and other contributions,” Palacios.
Some businesses did open a few days after Yutu, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency called part of every community’s recovery efforts after every disaster. “Businesses are slowly trying to open up to serve the community even if it is limited hours.”
“Again, I don’t have data to support this. Some businesses have reduced hours to let their employees tend to their homes and families, while others had to reduce hours because the business itself is impacted.”
Generators also became an issue, with some businesses being able to continue with their operations unlike others.
“Some businesses on Saipan were prepared with generators from past experience with Typhoon Soudelor, which allowed them to continue operations if their physical structures were not impacted,” said Palacios.
“Generators, though, need to be taken down for maintenance and there are businesses that are having generator issues.”
She added that the CNMI Department of Labor, under Secretary Vicky Benavente, has also asked businesses and other employers of informing them of their plans, if they would either cut their hours of operations or lay off their workers.
“Businesses would have to inform Labor if they are letting employees go. There are also grants approved and pending approval to assist these employees,” said Palacios.