The Federal Emergency Management Agency recognizes that the private sector is an important partner of every community in its recovery efforts after every disaster, according to FEMA-National Incident Management Assessment Team external affairs officer David Gervino.
In a briefing last Friday at the NMI Retirement Fund building, Gervino said that businesses play a key role in a lot of areas when it comes to a community’s recovery. That’s why it is one of the agency’s priorities in any disaster.
After life-saving and life-sustaining needs are fulfilled, the next priority of the CNMI government and FEMA “is making sure properties don’t get further damaged and to protect the environment.”
Getting the private sector up and running is next. “We know that when people can get back to their jobs, they are able to work each day. They have that routine that they are returning to.”
“[That] even though things are not all fixed and perfect at their homes, and they have a long process of recovery to go to, [getting people back to their jobs] is just something that gives people a sense of normalcy. It is something that gives people a sense of empowerment,” he said.
In a span of just about two months, the CNMI was hit by two strong typhoons. Saipan and Tinian are on their way to recovery after Super Typhoon Yutu’s hurricane-like winds hammered the islands almost two weeks ago while Rota is also coming back to life after Typhoon Mangkhut’s devastation.
Gervino said that people working and earning their paychecks again would help stimulate the local economy. “It means that stores are open and so residents can go and spend money here to stimulate the local economy.”
He said the government would continue giving relief and other aid to the people if ever private businesses are not yet fully operational. However, getting businesses operational is also a priority.
“When government is here and giving things out, which we’ll do as long as it takes until there’s private sector resources available, that doesn’t do anything to help the local economy.”
“So, we get the [private sector] back up and running and, in that way, people are able to put money into the local economy and get back on their feet.”
Press secretary Kevin Bautista added that getting businesses down south back up is also their priority. “We want to reassure the community, especially within Garapan, which is the central hub of our economy, most of the businesses remain fine, which is good.”
“In terms of the areas closest to the hotels, while that is important we want to make sure that we still continue to bring up the private sector partners down south, where most of the damage is.”
He added that the Office of the Attorney General is also monitoring the prices of goods. “The OAG has issued a price freeze and there’s an executive order signed by the governor a few days ago at the beginning of the storm.”
“If there’s any price gouging, you have to report to the AG consumer protection counsel. We really know that folks are trying to get back on their feet and we don’t want certain private sectors exploiting consumers and customers during this time.”