CNMI businessman and Board of Education member Phillip Thomas Mendiola-Long was named yesterday as one of three persons recognized as this year’s Phoenix Award Champions by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Mendiola-Long was chosen as the recipient of the Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery by a Volunteer, for disregarding his personal losses to ensure the island’s recovery in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yutu in October 2018.
In addition to Mendiola-Long, this year’s other SBA award recipients are Albert Terry Bourque Jr. and Hope Bourque of TLR Homes Vidor in Texas, who rebounded after massive inventory losses from Hurricane Harvey. They are being presented the Phoenix Award for Outstanding Small Business Disaster Recovery.
Deborah A. Lieberman, a Montgomery County Commissioner in Dayton, Ohio, who swiftly responded to the area’s needs following a tornado, is being honored with the Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery by a Public Official.
SBA announced the 2020 National Small Business Week Phoenix Award winners for their outstanding and inspiring resilience in the aftermath of devastating disasters.
The virtual National Small Business Week event, rescheduled from May due to the coronavirus pandemic, will be held on Sept. 22-24. This year’s National Small Business Week activities will include numerous educational panels providing retooling and innovative practices for entrepreneurs as our nation’s small businesses look to pivot and recover toward a stronger economy.
Since 1998, the SBA has presented Phoenix Awards to business owners, public officials, and volunteers who displayed selflessness, ingenuity and tenacity in the aftermath of a disaster, while contributing to the rebuilding of their communities.
In explaining its choice of Mendiola-Long, SBA said that Super Typhoon Yutu hit Tinian on Oct. 24, 2018, with the storm’s 180 mile-per-hour winds severely damaging Mendiola-Long’s gas station, one of only two on the island. The storm destroyed more than 3,000 homes, and Mendiola-Long’s residence suffered extensive damages.
“Despite his losses, [Mendiola-Long] decided to share his remaining resources to support the island’s recovery. He returned to the gas station to find that the winds had ripped out the only two gas pumps from their foundations.
“Within 24 hours, [Mendiola-Long] and his staff had scavenged the island, found a hand pump, and built an extension line into the underground gas tank. The team could now begin pumping fuel for first responders, law enforcement officials, and city agencies involved in the recovery effort. He also organized a volunteer effort to distribute generators donated by a local charity to disaster survivors.
“[Mendiola-Long] reached out to Guam business contacts and gathered food, water, tents, first-aid kits, and other survival necessities for the disaster survivors. He used his office as a supply distribution center that stayed open from 8am to 5pm daily. [Mendiola-Long] drove to Tinian’s hardest-hit areas, personally delivering relief goods to those in desperate need.
“Using social media, [Mendiola-Long] reached out to business contacts, family, and friends in Hawaii, Guam, Nevada, and Texas and asked for donations. His efforts netted 20 boxes of supplies and $15,000 in cash for the beleaguered island residents,” the SBA statement said. (Saipan Tribune)