Over 110 days after Super Typhoon Yutu slammed into Saipan and Tinian in late October 2018, about 50 individuals comprising 22 families remain at the Kagman Emergency Shelter Facility as of yesterday morning, according to the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs.
DCCA Secretary Robert Hunter told Saipan Tribune that the remaining shelterees are there simply because they have nowhere else to go.
“Most of the [shelterees] had houses that were destroyed,” Hunter said. “They really have nowhere to go back to.”
“Most people want to move back to their place and clean and fix their place up, but most of the people back in the shelter have no other place to go, really,” he added.
Most are already looking at alternative housing options.
“It was difficult before Super Typhoon Yutu. Housing was at a premium and it wasn’t that readily available, but it is even harder now with fewer residences and higher rent,” he said.
The KESF still remains as a long-term temporary shelter facility.
In a previous interview, Hunter told Saipan Tribune that talks with the CNMI Legislature would be “forthcoming” on the legal processing and designation of the KESF as a permanent long-term shelter for future disasters.
However, as of publication, Hunter noted that discussions have yet to be finalized.
“As we see the shelterees start transitioning back to homes, we need to have this discussion about what we need to do to [permanently designate the facility as a long-term shelter],” he said.
Hunter noted that his department has put in the effort to have the building air-conditioned and getting the water pumps and tanks to work.
“There are still a few things that need to be done that are on order. …It is a matter of [preserving] it and keeping it up somewhat so that it is ready to go in the event of a disaster, so that we have a facility that we can use,” he said.
The building is still under the jurisdiction of the CNMI Department of Corrections, according to Hunter, adding that discussions with the CNMI Legislature have yet to start.
“Those discussions are forthcoming,” he added.