ON FEMA AID FOR SPORTS COMPLEX REPAIR
Northern Mariana Sports Association executive director Tony Rogolifoi is hoping that the process of obtaining financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the repair work at the Oleai Sports Complex could be fast-tracked.
“A FEMA inspector assessed the sports complex last Monday and we’re looking forward to getting a feedback from the agency next week,” Rogolifoi said in an interview with Saipan Tribune yesterday.
“I hope this time, the process (of getting aid from FEMA to repair the facility) will be faster than what we experienced during Typhoon Soudelor, as there are lot of things that need to be fixed here because of the extent of the damage caused by Super Typhoon Yutu,” the NMSA official added.
The category 5 typhoon that hammered Saipan and Tinian late October left the fence of the sports complex shattered, ripped off the already leaking roof, crushed windows, broke poles, lights, pitching cage, and bleachers at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios and Miguel “Tan Ge” Basa Pangelinan ballfields, and damaged the track oval.
Super Typhoon Yutu’s destruction came when NMSA was just waiting for some documents to push forward with the repair work at the sports complex, which more than three years ago also took a hit from Typhoon Soudelor. Two years after Typhoon Soudelor slammed Saipan (Aug. 2, 2015), Gov. Ralph DLG Torres announced that $505,220 in public assistance funds had been approved by FEMA to help with the renovation and other repairs at the Oleai facility.
The little over half-a-million dollar allocation is still available and Rogolifoi believes NMSA will get more because of the massive damage the sports complex sustained from Super Typhoon Yutu. The NMSA official added that the increased funding will help them secure sturdier facilities.
While waiting for FEMA, Rogolifoi and his five staff members continue to clean the sports complex that will serve as the main hub of the 2021 Pacific Games. Yesterday, Rogolifoi and company removed the flooring of the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium. Long before Super Typhoon Yutu hit the island, bubbles from several vinyl flooring had already been forming and some were peeled off. Frequent raining this week and the leaking roof left the flooring covered with water, so NMSA staff members and Rogolifoi decided to clear them.
“We will continue to clean the sports complex as we wait for FEMA’s help. It will be a while before we could get things going here, but I hope by middle of next year we could have some of the facilities back. Also, we need to speed up the repair work because of the 2021 Pacific Games,” Rogolifoi said.
Although Saipan is a little over two years away from hosting the Pacific Games, the facilities need to be in shape for a series of assessment from the Pacific Games Council.