It has been a year since Super Typhoon Yutu wrought havoc on the islands of Saipan and Tinian. And, while massive funds and resources have been poured into recovery efforts, many residents are still busy picking up the pieces of their lives. Many who lost homes still live in tents.
One of those still eking out a living from a tent is Jerric (last name withheld) in Chalan Kanoa, who said his family was forced to live in a tent after their house sustained major damage from Yutu.
He described Yutu as a learning experience as it taught him how to be resilient and how patience and determination could play key roles in shaping how life would be in the long run.
At the start, he and his family found the experience difficult. It took them time to adapt to different sleeping schedules and adjust to a different living arrangement.
“Every morning was hot,” he said.
However, as Jerric saw it, he had no choice but to get up to do his usual routine of helping fix his house. “Over time, I was able to get rid of that feeling. …In all honesty, I can live life in a tent,” he said.
He acknowledged the help he has gotten from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, saying it has done so much by providing him with the funding to help rebuild his home, and he is thankful for that.
Another resident who asked not to be named said it has been difficult for him and his family to be living in a tent. His family of four have been living in a tent since Yutu after their house was completely destroyed.
“I am grateful that my family is safe, but it can be difficult as I have to bear the difficulty of giving a concrete answer when my kids ask when will our house be ready,” he said.
When Super Typhoon Hagibis and Typhoon Bualoi recently passed the CNMI, his family had to stay in one of the emergency shelters on island and that added to their concern if they would still have a tent to go home to.
He is an intended beneficiary of FEMA’s Permanent Housing Construction program and they are still dealing with paperwork and hopes that they could have a home ready by early 2020. “I am grateful that we are able to work with FEMA to find a means of getting a new home for my family,” he added.
If there is one lingering lesson the CNMI learned from Yutu and the previous damaging typhoon, Typhoon Soudelor in August 2015, it is the virtue of resilience, of getting back to one’s feet and starting all over again.
Rep. Luis John Castro (R-Saipan) said as much yesterday, saying, “We still continue to pick up the pieces Yutu scattered, we still live in the effects of its devastation in our villages today.
“But 12 months later, we stand as a community more resilient than we were yesterday,” he said.
He said the CNMI has shown that the strongest force of nature is the human spirit—a spirit fostered by ancestors, forged by parents and elders, and more strengthened over the last year by the love and care of friends, neighbors, and families. “No matter the obstacles in our way, we stand firm and fast to rebuild, restore, and recover,” he said.
Yesterday, Oct. 24, marked the first anniversary of Yutu’s destruction. To celebrate the spirit of resiliency, the Lady Diann Torres Foundation, in collaboration with other government agencies, will be hosting the “Resiliency Fest” tomorrow at the Marianas Business Plaza to celebrate that resiliency.