Tents have become the new homes for families


The “house” of the mother featured in the story. (Reica Ramirez)

Editor’s Note: This is part of a continuing series of articles where Saipan Tribune examines the continuing impact of Super Typhoon Yutu, more than six months since it hit Saipan and Tinian in October 2018.

Nearly seven months after Super Typhoon Yutu destroyed the islands of Saipan and Tinian, many families are still recovering. Some still live in temporary tents that have become their “new home.”

A 41-year old Filipino-Chamorro mother, who asked for anonymity, remains hopeful even if her family still lives in a tent provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Her family is patiently waiting for FEMA’s Permanent Housing Construction, or PHC, program to begin.

She recalled her experiences from the typhoon. Her family was prepared with boarded windows and doors. However, when the typhoon arrived, the kitchen roof fell and the garage was completely blown apart. Soon the plywood boards broke apart and the windows were shattered.

Because her house is situated near a wetland, her house was flooded.

“We were stuck inside our flooded house, so my family was soaking wet,” she said.

After the typhoon, her house was infested with mosquitoes, mold, and termites. Her family also had to throw away most of their personal belongings that were damaged.

“The living situation is difficult. I have five kids and [elderly] parents to take care. Since we live near the roads with power poles being fixed, my house had no power for the past two days,” she said.

Her children struggle sleeping inside the tents, especially with the extreme heat. They also depend on bottles of insect repellent to get through the night.

Her family had no other options. A month after Super Typhoon Yutu, her father had an aneurysm heart attack. Now, he is forced to use a wheelchair because he struggles to walk.

Her mom tried to find a new place to live while they wait for FEMA’s PHC program to start. Unfortunately, the places weren’t suitable and safe for her father to live in. She said, “There wasn’t a lot of affordable ground floor houses for my father to safely live in. Since we have a tent, we just stayed.”

Despite all the struggles, she tries to adjust to her new environment. She remains hopeful that her house will be fixed in the next few months.

Reica Ramirez

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