FEMA finds some Yutu survivors had land ownership issues


The Federal Emergency Management Office has found that some of the survivors of Super Typhoon Yutu’s massive destructions in October 2018 had issues with providing clear deeds or titles to their property to prove proper land ownership.

FEMA Recovery Office director Sheryl Clark Cochran disclosed in an interview Friday that there are several survivor homes that are still undergoing probate review.

“As is often the case on the islands, you have a family and homes are passed down generationally, but a lot of times the paperwork doesn’t follow up,” Cochran said.


She said FEMA has provided expanded disaster legal services to those survivors to help them prove title and land ownership, and that includes doing family trees and hierarchies.

“We’re actually working with the courts to sign off and make sure that we have clear land ownership before we can proceed,” Cochran said.

She emphasized they can’t start repairs and construction until they can prove true land ownership.

A total of 183 eligible households, including 13 on Tinian, participated in the CNMI-FEMA Permanent Housing Construction Repair Program.

Cochran said the projection is that all the new home constructions will be done by May 2022, and all home repairs will be completed in January 2021.


On Rota, FEMA external affairs officer Todd Hoose said that Typhoon Mangkhu, in September 2018 did not warrant permanent housing construction. FEMA, however, along with Navy Seabees, still built roofs for 35 homes. “So it was different type of assistance and a different level of typhoon,” Hoose said.

It was Yutu that allowed them to implement permanent housing construction, Hoose said.

Last Friday, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in Koblerville to open a newly-built concrete three-bedroom house that FEMA built for a family who was the first one among those many Yutu survivors to move to a new home.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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