A religious group that has sent a disaster assistance group to the CNMI to help Saipan and Tinian recover after the destruction of Super Typhoon Yutu expected operations to start as soon as this past weekend.
Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian relief agency from North Carolina, ran into some unexpected snags such as the lack of trucks and heavy equipment vehicles, delaying their relief assistance operations on Saipan by a day, said Mark Langham, the team leader of the 20-man group.
“We are currently engaging local churches and the hospital to find which of the residents of Saipan suffered the most damage and are in need of the supplies that we have,” Langham told Saipan Tribune Thursday last week.
The group brought with them about 30 tons of emergency shelter material, solar lights, and water filtration units that could accommodate over 5,000 families. They have also been in touch with local churches on Tinian as well as other government agencies and organizations on Saipan, such as the American Red Cross-NMI Chapter and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“We should start our distributions in the next couple of days,” he said, adding that the 20-man group has been working non-stop since touching down on Saipan last Tuesday afternoon.
Langham said the lack of hauling equipment has been a challenge. “…We had just were able to get the trucking to get [our supplies] to our warehouse. It has been a major issue on the island,” he said. “That slowed things down a day, and it is just a matter of coordinated efforts to get the names of the people that would be beneficiaries to make sure there is no duplication with other organizations and go to the process of orderly distributions.”
Langham did not disclose a specific distribution site but said, “We should be in full gear by next week, maybe even as early as this weekend. We will work seven days a week…for the duration of our time here because we know the need for it is urgent,” he said, adding that medical clinics would also be set up.
The group arrived on Saipan last Nov. 6 aboard its own airplane.