“[The Federal Emergency Management Agency] will be here, has been here prior to the storm, and will continue to be here—during not only the repair and restoration time phases but also during and helping with the long-term recovery phase.”
Thus assured FEMA Regional Administrator for Region IX, Robert Fenton, who visited Saipan and Tinian earlier this week.
Fenton, who has been with FEMA since 1996, was appointed as Region IX Regional Administrator in July 2015 and has been involved in recovery efforts post-Paka, Pongsana, Chataan, Soudelor and now, Yutu.
During his visit, Fenton toured the newly designated emergency shelter facility in Kagman, the Marpi landfill, and the Saipan Mayor’s Office along with the CNMI governor’s authorized representative Virginia Villagomez, deputy regional administrator (Region IX) William Roche, federal coordinating officer Benigno Ruiz, and several of the CNMI’s leadership.
Progress on debris collection and review of the island’s debris reduction plans with Saipan Mayor David Apatang and the touring of federal facilities used to stage resources and distribution for the Kagman Emergency Shelter Facility were some of the covered discussions during his tour.
“We [FEMA] have people who are committed to service and who are from all over the country to provide a 110 percent effort to the CNMI. It’s a mission that we like to do, and we are glad to be here fulfilling this mission,” Fenton said.
TETRIS deadline extended
The CNMI government has extended the deadline to submit a right of entry form for TETRIS consideration from Dec. 8 to Dec. 15.
Villagomez said this is intended to service the traffic and number of residential walk-ins.
“We encourage every impacted resident on Saipan to take advantage of this unique program,” said Villagomez.
The CNMI government, in coordination with FEMA, the U.S. Department of Defense, and American Red Cross, introduced the Temporary Emergency Tent and Roofing Installation Support, or TETRIS program on Nov. 5.
TETRIS was designed to offer assistance to residents of Saipan and Tinian who experienced extensive damage to their homes as a result of Yutu.
In preparation of Public School System campuses opening their doors last week and this week, those managing the TETRIS operation focused on providing tents and temporary roofs for displaced families in shelters. Acceptance of the TETRIS applications was extended another week to service and focus displaced residents who did not seek shelter in one of the government shelters.
Although TETRIS is a program implemented by the CNMI government, funding is provided by FEMA and is coordinated by Department of Defense partners. CNMI and DOD provide installations; however, the CNMI is the sole entity determining who receives tents.
To apply for the program, residents must complete a right of entry form which may be obtained by visiting the Koblerville Fire Station or the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe. Applying for Individual Assistance through FEMA and applying for the TETRIS program are two separate processes and require two separate applications.
The TETRIS program on Tinian has ended, and residents who needed assistance through the program has been completed.
A total of 202 tents were erected on Tinian.
As of Dec. 9, the CNMI government and DOD have installed a total of 1,344 tents and have repaired 93 roofs on Saipan. These numbers are expected to increase as more displaced residents in shelters are expected to avail of the TETRIS program.
For questions regarding the TETRIS program on Saipan, call the Koblerville Fire Station as (670) 664-9083.
Again, the deadline to submit an ROE has been extended to Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018.
Power, water restoration
At 9:45am, Friday morning, the Maui well on Tinian was energized, bringing 95 percent of Tinian’s critical infrastructure onto the island’s power grid.
The Tinian International Airport remains offline while CUC crews revert focus to getting homes on grid power while making their way to the Tinian International Airport.
An additional 65 utility poles arrived on Saipan earlier this week, some of which were transported to Tinian, from San Bernadino, Calif.
CUC’s efforts to restore power on Saipan continues to prioritize primary lines in preparation to energize areas inward.
Water production on Saipan is 95 percent online, 100 percent on Tinian.
Shelter and transportation
Consolidation of several shelters into one main facility was completed earlier this week. All displaced families were transitioned from their previous shelter into the new emergency shelter facility in Kagman.
The CNMI government also continues to assist shelterees requiring medical equipment who previously sought shelter at the Aging and HOPE Centers. The consolidation was done to better focus on needs of the shelterees by centralizing resources.
Feeding of shelterees is now being fully provided by the CNMI government. Disaster assistance, including assisting these families with the TETRIS program registration, is ongoing and will continue until each family has been provided assistance.
COTA also continues to provide transportation for families in the shelter to go to and from medical appointments and for a small fee, also offer transportation to visit their damaged homes.
A number of temporary emergency evacuation shelters first opened their doors on Oct. 24 in response to Super Typhoon Yutu. At the peak of shelter operations, a total of 15 shelters were opened, housing nearly 1,100 displaced residents who were unable to return and safely live in their current residence due to major storm damage.
The Kagman Emergency Shelter Facility officially opened its doors on Dec. 3 in efforts to house and consolidate the existing shelterees from Gregorio T. Camacho Elementary School, Tanapag Middle School, Kagman Elementary School, the HOPE Recovery Center, and the Office of Aging.
Various agencies and non-profit organizations played key roles in identifying needs and maintaining overall safety, comfort and care for displaced residents since the opening of the evacuation shelters.
A special thanks to the CNMI government, PSS, Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, COTA, Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., Hope Recovery Center, FEMA, Red Cross, the Maturana House of Prayer, and all organizations who contributed to the overall sheltering efforts.
As of Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, the KESF’s population was 156. The KESF population is expected to steadily decrease as shelterees return home.
In the meantime, the CNMI government and FEMA continue to collaborate in assisting impacted residents by providing more long-term housing solutions.
Public feeding, relief efforts
The American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, MyPros, the Northern Marianas Technical Institute, DOD, and the CNMI government have helped tremendously in feeding not only the shelter population, but with public feeding as well.
Samaritan’s Purse, Karidat, The Lady Diann Foundation and various church and non-profit organizations, including private sector partners such as TanHoldings Corp., Bridge Capital LLC, Joeten, IT&E, Docomo, and Matson, have also pitched in to assist with relief efforts.
Many private companies such as Bank of Guam and some autonomous agencies like the Commonwealth Ports Authority have disbursed or plan to disburse cash relief to their employees.
Debris removal is ongoing and the CNMI government, specifically the Saipan Mayor’s Office, Department of Public Works, FEMA, and DOD partners are working to clear debris from Saipan and Tinian. More trucks and equipment have been transported to Saipan to assist with this.
Residents must remove debris before the end of December. This program will not last forever and requires full cooperation of residents in order to complete this mission.
Debris not separated accordingly will not be picked up and will then become the responsibility of each resident to remove debris at their own cost. If regular day-to-day household trash is intermingled with lumber, tin and green waste piles, debris crews will not pick up waste; therefore, the CNMI government is urging residents who currently have household trash mixed-in with debris piles, to remove them from properly sorted piles, and to dispose them by bringing household garbage to the As Gonno or Marpi landfill sites.
1. Green Waste (trees, shrubs, plants, grass, etc.)
2. Tin (roofing metal, metal sheets, etc.)
3. Lumber (plywood, 2x2s, 2x4s, etc.)
4. Household waste (mattresses, furniture damaged by Yutu, does not include daily household trash)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality have also announced the roll-out of the White Goods, Electronics, and Household hazardous materials curbside pickup program.
1. White goods (refrigerators, washers, dryers, etc.)
2. Electronics (television sets, computers, PC units, etc.)
3. Household hazardous waste (paints, solvents, pesticides and other chemicals)
Last round of debris pick-up is slated for December 17th on Saipan.
Schools will continue to operate in double sessions for some campuses, but in the meantime, the CNMI government along with FEMA and PSS will be building temporary schools to alleviate the population in combined campuses. Simultaneously, the CNMI government, in partnership with FEMA, plans on leveraging mitigation funds and are ready to devise strategies to construct not just more infrastructurally-sound school buildings, but technologically advanced ones as well.
Post-Soudelor, CUC received mitigation funds to harden Saipan’s power and water systems. A total of 97 percent of utility poles funded under those mitigation funds withstood Yutu. Both CNMI and FEMA wish to build an even more sound infrastructure, one that will not discontinue water services into homes after disasters. And one that will sustain even stronger winds for future disasters.
This forward-thinking in terms of hardening the CNMI’s critical infrastructure also includes the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport. Once recovery efforts are closer to completion, the CNMI government also plans on looking into what the government and the Commonwealth Ports Authority can do to harden what supports the biggest money-making industry in the CNMI, tourism.
Our biggest challenge with resiliency is how far the CNMI is from the continental U.S. and how this poses a logistical challenge. Because of that, most of the CNMI’s projects and supply, including navigational aids needed to bring the airport back to life post-Yutu, were hindered.
However, the current administration is determined to improve on hardening the CNMI’s critical infrastructure across the board.
Message of appreciation
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres thanks the entire CNMI for their patience as we all recover from Yutu, “It is important to address the community and how each and every one of you should be commended for remaining patient throughout this recovery. We will keep trucking forward with plans to always improve and increase resiliency in our islands. On behalf of the CNMI government, our first responders and our FEMA counterparts, DOD partners and multiple non-governmental organizations, we thank you all for keeping your spirits high.
“One team. One fight. One Marianas. Si yu’us ma’ase and gilisow for believing in the process and supporting our progress.” (PR)