CARE hopes to finish all projects in 22 months


The Commonwealth Advocates for Recovery Efforts is hoping a 22-month timeframe would be enough to finish all repairs and rebuild projects of homes that were destroyed or damaged when Typhoon Soudelor pummeled Saipan last year.

Out of 591 families, 130 needed total repairs of their houses that were leveled by Soudelor’s hurricane-like winds.

The villages of Kagman and Dandan had the highest percentage of homes that need total rebuilding with 14 percent and 12 percent of the 591 cases, respectively, according to data sourced by the American Red Cross’ International Disaster and Crisis Management team. The data is as of Jan. 26, 2016.

CARE director Jenny Hegland said that they already begun with the repair projects with the total rebuild to start soon once they are able to bring more skilled laborers on Saipan. CARE is planning to bring in off-island workers to help in the rebuilding projects.

“Total rebuild projects will start as soon as we are able to bring skilled labor to the island since there are no contractors available otherwise to work on these rebuilding projects. The longer-term disaster case management program will continue for 22 months,” said Hegland.

“While we would love to complete all assistance with repair and rebuilding in that timeframe, it’s difficult to anticipate whether or not that would be possible due to uncertainties in the availability of skilled laborers. Our timeframe will also be dependent on our ability to bring in both in-kind and financial resources.”

Hegland added that as of now they are not having problems when it comes to availability of building materials. They are also still seeking monetary donations to continue supporting CARE’s activities, construction materials for the repair and rebuilding projects, and travel support to bring in the skilled volunteers.

“We’re looking at all available options just to bring in the skilled laborers. One of that is airline mileage [frequent flyer program] but we are not looking at bringing in only one guy, we need a group of skilled laborers. Anything that could help in bringing in the people we need.”

Hegland said CARE is looking to use $5 million of the $13.9 million estimated total cost of unmet housing needs that they would need as operating budget.

“The operating budget is the amount we are realistically trying to seek. Of that, about 92 percent would be budgeted for direct rebuilding expenses like labor and building materials. Less than 8 percent would be budgeted for operational overhead. The $5 million operating is not above and beyond the $13.9 million,” she added.

Hegland said they also asked for the assistance of Habitat for Humanity, which has an office in Guam, in rebuilding the damaged homes, while representatives from the Skywalker Communications Group, which launched the GreenStay housing project that uses pre-fabricated and environment-friendly materials, attended last January’s CARE meeting.

Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit group involved in building affordable houses, at this time was “not able to provide direct building support in Saipan.”

“But through our dialogue we’ve been able to learn best practices in working with skilled and other volunteer laborers to build homes. Skywalker has expressed an interest in assisting families with restoring their homes, however no donations or partnerships have been formalized at this time.”

The CNMI lost an estimated $9.18 million in revenue in the last quarter, the time when the IT&E Internet outage and typhoons Soudelor and Champi occurred.

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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