FEMA OKs $22M for public assistance programs


The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved more public infrastructure assistance programs for the CNMI government.

Gov. Eloy S. Inos said FEMA approved a budget of $22 million for the additional categories.

“This morning, FEMA approved the additional categories,” Inos said.

Inos said FEMA approved the following public assistance programs: Category “C” (roads and bridges), “D” (water control facilities), “E” (building and equipment), “F” (utilities), and “G” (parks and recreational facilities).

CNMI departments can now identify projects under the categories and start working on these projects.

FEMA initially approved public assistance limited to two programs: Category “A” (debris removal) and Category “B” (emergency protective measures).

Joint Information Center coordinator Ivan Blanco clarified that “public assistance refers to ‘public infrastructure assistance’ and not assistance to individuals.”

“That is a separate item under the Individual Assistance Program,” Blanco said.

Still on recovery

Inos said efforts continue to focus on power restoration and that the government aims to “leverage” federal funds as recovery activities continues in the wake Typhoon Soudelor.

As of the moment, the CNMI is still on “recovery mode,” Inos said.

“But things are moving a lot faster now. Faster than we expected,” Inos said, adding that the recovery efforts continue to hinge on power restoration.

Out of the approved a budget of $22 million for the additional categories, $13.5 million will go to utilities, Inos said.

He said the pace is “unprecedented” but the government still does not want to lift people’s expectations and then not deliver on its promise.

Although he did not give a timeline, Inos said the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. has set “crews on the ground just waiting for more equipment” such power poles and transmission lines.

About 200 poles are now en route to Saipan from Guam.

The CUC is reportedly without any spare power poles after all power poles in stock were depleted due to the restoration efforts. The Guam Power Authority is shipping power poles to Saipan to assist in local power restoration efforts.

A barge delivering the power poles was expected to reach Saipan yesterday.

Joel D. Pinaroc | Reporter
Joel Pinaroc worked for a number of newspapers in the Philippines before joining the editorial team of Saipan Tribune. His published articles include stories on information technology, travel and lifestyle, and motoring, among others. Contact him at joel_pinaroc@saipantribune.com.

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