FEMA backs local typhoon response efforts


Following President Joe Biden’s pre-landfall emergency declaration last Tuesday, Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel have begun carrying out requests made by the CNMI government relating to Typhoon Mawar response efforts.

In an interview with Brady Penn, external affairs officer with FEMA, he said FEMA personnel are on island now to support the CNMI government in preparedness efforts.

“We’re here supporting our territorial partners and working with local governments to ensure that we’re well prepared ahead of the storm, which is expected in the next 36 hours,” he said.

Thanks to Biden’s pre-landfall emergency declaration, Penn said FEMA has begun coordinating with federal partners like the Department of Defense to fulfill the CNMI’s needs as it weathers out the storm.

“President Biden signed a pre-landfall emergency declaration this week, which allows FEMA to move people and commodities…to support the territorial governments of the Marianas with any unmet needs, should they arise during the storm. That includes things like food, water, tents, generators, as well as personnel like the Incident Management Assistance Team,” he said.

Penn said that about 100 federal personnel have been split between Guam and the CNMI in preparation for Typhoon Mawar.

“Between Guam and the CNMI, nearly 100 personnel are on the ground between FEMA and other federal partners. We have folks stationed on different islands so we can respond as quickly as possible. We want to be prepared. We also have the DOD contingent. Part of FEMA’s role is to coordinate those federal organizations, so we have a coordinated response led by the local governments,” he said. “So we’re here supporting already. Most of our team is on Guam supporting the government there. So we’ve got people on the ground. We’ve got commodities in place, and the distribution center in Guam has been activated so that we can get necessary commodities to the places that need it the most [like Rota],” Penn added.

In addition, Pann stated that FEMA has pre-staged generators for Rota and will be sending them over to Rota once it is safe to do so. This was one of the CNMI’s top concerns: its ability to mobilize generators large enough to power the Rota Health Center.

“FEMA has generators pre-staged and they are ready to be deployed as soon as it’s safe to do so following the storm. As soon as we are able to assess the needs, regardless of the island, we will be able to get those generators and anything else we’re called upon to provide, we will be able to provide. This pre-landfall emergency declaration allows us to deploy and support,” he said.

Ultimately, Penn said FEMA is here to back the CNMI government in its response efforts.

“Disaster response is done best when its locally led and federally supported. We’re here to merely support the local governments. The governor requested this emergency declaration and that’s why we’re here. The local governments needed support, so we’re just here to provide that. It’s a team effort that is locally led and territorially directed. We’re going to be seeing that through the recovery phase and we’ll see where we are in the next couple of days,” Penn stated.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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