More funds eyed to help recovery

SONGSONG, Rota—The administration of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres already expects additional funding will be needed for the full recovery of the island of Rota.

In a briefing last Tuesday that included representatives of disaster relief agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross-NMI Chapter, it was discussed that Torres may have to ask President Donald J. Trump for another disaster declaration to fund the full recovery of Rota.

According to Patrick Guerrero, project specialist under the CNMI public assistance office of the Office of the Governor, a FEMA program, damage assessment will need to reach $1 million or more in order to avail of FEMA monetary assistance.

“Our office is here…to do a preliminary damage assessment so that we can assess what kind of damage was done to public facilities,” he said.

He pointed out that there is a minimum threshold of $1 million before FEMA can provide assistance in terms of funding.

Guerrero said the emergency declaration that was approved by the White House last Tuesday would only cover certain aspects in terms of recovery so the CNMI administration is looking at requesting another declaration in order to actually rebuild what was destroyed by Typhoon Mangkhut, including facilities like schools.

Linemen and crew of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. are working double time to restore power and water on Rota. (Kimberly A. Bautista)

“The governor asked for an emergency declaration and the White House did provide that and that was specifically for emergency measures. It covers only certain aspects of the public assistance that is provided by FEMA. …What we’re trying to do is get another declaration for us to recover, rebuild facilities, schools, the public hospital, airports, anything that serves the community,” he said.

Torres said that he is thankful for Trump’s continuous support for the Marianas in terms of recovery.

“I would like to thank our President for acting swiftly on our request and we’re working now with FEMA to make sure the additional assistance for the folks of Rota is received expeditiously,” he said.

According to Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), who also visited the island of Rota to assess the damage left by Mangkhut, his office will do the best that they can to help push for the additional assistance that is needed for Rota.

“Once the paperwork gets to headquarters from Region 9, we will help get it approved…so we are prepared for that with our White House contacts… and we also have an on going communication with FEMA…but all this is spearheaded by the governor and we are just assisting…he is the point of contact for this,” he said.

Guerrero said that two FEMA members from the Region 9 out of Auckland California arrived on Rota yesterday to join them.

Light materials were no match to the ferocious winds of Typhoon Mangkhut as it passed through Rota late Monday. (Kimberly A. Bautista)

Kimberly Bautista Bautista
Kimberly Bautista is the youngest in the stable of Saipan Tribune reporters. She has covered a wide range of beats, including the community, housing, crime, and education, for the Saipan Tribune.

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