Still recovering from the destruction of Typhoon Soudelor three years ago and now faced with widespread destruction from Super Typhoon Yutu, the Northern Marianas College is being prompted to aggressively pursue typhoon-resistant structures once recovery gets fully underway.
According to acting NMC president Frankie Eliptico, NMC sustained large damage to its structures in its As Terlaje campus on Saipan, based on preliminary visual assessments.
“…There are some buildings on campus that suffered extensive damage beyond repair, so we really need to build anew whereas other buildings on campus [sustained] damage that we can repair over a period of time,” he told Saipan Tribune Wednesday.
Eliptico noted that the college has to aggressively pursue typhoon-resistant structures to prevent such heavy damage.
“They have to be,” said Eliptico. “We do not want to rebuild structures to the same [condition prior to Super Typhoon Yutu]. We want hardened structures that are more typhoon-resistant or even typhoon-proof, because we can’t continue to come back storm after storm to the [same damage].”
Majority of the Saipan campus’ buildings have heavy damage. In order to continue classes, Eliptico is now looking at spaces where classes could be set up.
In a meeting with Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Federal Emergency Management Agency, a possible option for the college to continue classes could be in temporary structures shipped into Saipan for a makeshift classroom, such as those used in American Samoa in the past.
“We can probably begin classes in some buildings here, but we are unable to tell today,” he said, adding that he and his staff are “looking at all possible options.”
An official assessment on the college has yet to be made as about 80 volunteer students, staff, and family are cleaning up the campus.
Eliptico plans to make a statement at the end of the week, after assessments.
“Our foremost concern right now is for our students and employees, and we are reaching out to those really affected, some more than others, and seeing if they are okay and [trying] to connect them with emergency services,” he said.
In order to cover the expected expenses for repair, the college has already been in preliminary talks with House Committee on Ways and Means chairman Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan) for funding.
The NMC Tinian campus and Rota campus, according to Eliptico, also sustained damage but, like the As Terlaje campus, assessments have yet to be made. He further noted that visiting the Rota and Tinian campuses have been impossible since flights have been at a standstill up until recently.
Eliptico stated that the NMC Library and CNMI Archives would soon open to allow students to charge devices, access the internet, and just stay around to get out of their post-typhoon environment.
“NMC is more than a collection of physical structures. NMC is the spirit of the community, it is the spirit of 160 employees, and it is the spirit of 1,300 students. A storm cannot break that. It can break our facilities and our buildings, but it can’t and won’t break our spirit. We will be rebuilding and we will come back stronger and more resilient than we were prior,” Eliptico said. “We are asking for the community’s patience, and support in the meantime.”