The Federal Emergency Management Agency has obligated an estimated total of over $135 million in public assistance funds to the CNMI government to help defray the costs and other losses from Super Typhoon Yutu.
FEMA Office of External Affairs representative Todd Hoose told Saipan Tribune that the total estimated amount of damage to the CNMI following Yutu’s wake could reach over $800 million. He said that FEMA and other federal agencies have a number of grant programs as part of their direct disaster expense.
He added that the projected numbers—funding and programs—are all estimates that are projected until they end their commitment to the Commonwealth, which could be years from now.
“Our housing programs alone include the Permanent Housing Construction, temporary emergency housing—Voluntary Agencies Leading and Organizing Repair—and tenting [Temporary Emergency Tent and Roofing Installation Support]. We also have the public assistance grant program estimates in $200 million and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which accounts for over $72 million,” said Hoose.
FEMA has also dispensed a total of $69.3 million to victims of the super typhoon, with $34.7 million in assistance given to individuals and households, while another $17.5 million was provided for housing assistance. Other assistance needs for various programs reached another $17.1 million.
FEMA also provided the CNMI government with public assistance grants that are earmarked for projects proposed to them and identified by the Office of the Governor. The total projected cost of public assistance is $212 million while FEMA has currently obligated $135 million to the Commonwealth government. The estimated HMGP funds is pegged at $72 million.
Hoose reminds that these are only estimates. “We also have the public assistance grant program estimates in $200 million and the HMGP, which accounts for over $72 million. Even these dollar amounts will be deceptive as they could eventually be higher to due to meeting potential increased costs of code compliance in construction or previously unidentified damage.”
“The numbers could also be lower if every potential projects and individual recipients of services do not utilize the full benefit offered them. There are even additional FEMA mitigation funds that will be applied and added to some projects, if opportunities present themselves in the future. There are a lot of moving parts and opportunities in disaster assistance.”
Other programs, projects
Hoose also said that FEMA’s housing programs and projects are still ongoing and they had just finished installing the roof for the 48th damaged home while windows and doors are just arriving on Saipan. Three organizations are also in the CNMI, with one assigned to Tinian to help the VALOR projects that need to finished.
“The [VALOR] program provides operational support to voluntary agencies performing work and services essential to sustaining life and protecting health, safety, and property. Voluntary agencies perform minor emergency repairs to homes that enable residents to return or remain in their homes for shelter while awaiting permanent repairs. PHC repair is [also] moving along and the contractor is on the island assessing the individual properties that will be repaired in the first batch,” said Hoose.
“The PA projects—roads, power, schools, government buildings, etc.—are just completing their assessments of projects. HMGP will add another $72 million for mitigation projects and improvements.”