The Federal Emergency Management Agency, together with the CNMI government and the Small Business Administration, will conduct this week a joint preliminary damage assessment for Saipan, Tinian, and Rota in the wake of Typhoon Dolphin.
In a telephone interview yesterday, FEMA Region 9 external affairs officer Veronica Verde disclosed that CNMI Gov. Eloy S. Inos requested on Monday that FEMA participate in a public assistance preliminary damage assessment, or PDA.
Verde said SBA would join FEMA and the CNMI government as part of the PDA team.
Verde explained that the local government usually initially does its own damage assessment after a storm. She said the CNMI government goes out to the various islands to see if there is any damage as a result of Typhoon Dolphin. The result of that “rapid needs assessment” the local government does is then passed to the governor’s office, after which the governor and the CNMI Homeland Security and Emergency Management Office would determine if they are going make request for a joint PDA with FEMA and SBA.
Verde said FEMA has already sent a team of experts for public assistance assessments and SBA experts so they can begin the PDA for Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
When asked when this PDA can be completed, Verde said there is no timeframe but that they will try to do it as expeditiously as they can.
Verde said before the governor asked for a joint PDA, the government had already assessed some of the areas that they’ve identified as having been damaged by the typhoon.
She said FEMA will take the lead of the CNMI Homeland Security and Emergency Management Office to start the joint PDA.
“They’re going to be taking us to the various islands to show us the damage as a result of Typhoon Dolphin,” she said.
Verde said the joint PDA will begin this week and they hope to get this done as soon as possible.
After the PDA, the next step is to gather all the information and provide that to the governor, who will decide whether they’re going to make a request through FEMA to the U.S. President, Verde said.
“After the assessments are completed, these assessments actually belong to the CNMI Department of Homeland Security and for them to actually get those assessments and provide those over to the governor’s office to make that decision [on] what kind of assistance the governor is actually going to request,” she said.
She pointed out that FEMA’s role during the PDA is to verify the damage.
“It is the government of the CNMI’s role to collect the data [and] submit to FEMA if they feel they have enough damage to warrant a declaration,” she added.