Cabinet members, mayors, law enforcement officers, and other stakeholders completed yesterday a three-day senior leaders workshop conducted by Federal Emergency Management Agency officials at Saipan World Resort’s Royal Taga Hall.
A team of five FEMA officials held the training for two days and culminated yesterday with an exercise.
“This is the first time that we really had the entire Cabinet and we had great attendance,” according to Colby Stanton, director of FEMA Region 9 Pacific Area Office in Honolulu.
Stanton said their focus is helping Pacific jurisdictions integrate with FEMA and providing support for capability building.
“Because we understand the threat in the Pacific, the isolation, the geographic distances involve really require emergency management to a higher level here,” said Stanton in an interview.
She said FEMA worked with CNMI Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management special assistant Marvin Seman and the Governor’s Office to develop the seminar for the senior leaders and their staff.
Stanton said they trained the participants on how to access federal assistance, various FEMA programs, and the requirements for accessing those programs.
“This morning we culminated with the seminar leaders tabletop, which we had great representation,” she said.
Stanton said they used a single scenario but different kinds of impacts.
“One of the things that we always grapple with here is that we’re small islands in the middle of the vast of ocean,” she said.
Stanton said they set a scenario, in which they know that there is a threat coming in but they don’t know for sure what will happen.
She said their final module was a catastrophic disaster scenario.
“I think it’s a great learning opportunity for everybody and, to be honest, for FEMA as well,” she said.
Stanton said it’s always a great opportunity for them to hear what the local capabilities are and what the gaps are. She said it helps them identify how they can provide additional training to the CNMI government beforehand and also how they can be better prepared to support the government in an actual disaster.
“We know that the CNMI is isolated. It’s part of the reason why we have the Pacific Area Office,” she pointed out.
Seman said the seminar is actually something that the Office of the Governor and the Department of Homeland Security have been thinking about prior to the start of the new administration.
Seman said they made it a point to get all the new senior leadership, the Cabinet, the mayors, and some of non-profit organizations to come to the same table to discuss emergency management during a disaster.