Trump asked for 2nd ‘disaster declaration’


Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres, second from left, signs the letter to President Donald J. Trump requesting a major disaster declaration for the CNMI. Looking on are Federal Emergency Management Agency federal coordinating officer for the CNMI Willie G. Nunn, third from left, Rep. Angel A. Demapan, leftmost, House Ways and Means chairman, and Senate President Arnold I. Palacios, rightmost. (Contributed Photo)

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres has sent a second letter to the White House, asking President Trump to declare a major disaster for the CNMI following the onslaught brought by Typhoon Mangkhut last week. The letter was coursed through federal coordinating officer Willie Nunn of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Torres signed the letter yesterday at the CNMI Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management on Capital Hill. He then turned it over to Nunn, who will then send it to the White House as FEMA is the lead agency overseeing Rota’s relief efforts.

The major disaster declaration was the second letter that the administration sent to Trump after the emergency declaration request they made on the same day Typhoon Mangkhut made landfall on Rota. The emergency declaration was to allow FEMA and other federal agencies to assist them while the second letter is for funding purposes.

Nunn praised Torres and his administration for being proactive in planning ahead even before Mangkhut’s devastating winds battered the CNMI, most specially the southern island of Rota. “We’re here for the letter of request because you guys are very proactive. We worked together to get the joint assessment done. …It’s a positive thing to see that this was accomplished in less than 10 days.”

Mangkhut’s over 130mph winds affected 738 residents, with 11 homes on Rota totally destroyed while 42 suffered major damages and 296 minor ones. Saipan had 47 residents that were affected while Tinian had the least with 29.

Torres said the declaration of emergency was signed after the assessment they made with the help of FEMA, the American Red Cross-NMI Chapter, and other local agencies. “The declaration includes the entire CNMI. There are so many people and entities that need a lot of credit for this.”

He said that the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., as of yesterday, is close to restoring the power on the island to 100 percent as the employees and other personnel are working hard to replace the damaged weather heads while the Red Cross also plays a great role in distributing goods to the people of Rota.

Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan) and Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan), who represented the Legislature, said the people of Rota appreciate all the help that was provided them.

A photo posted on social media, however, showed an American Red Cross notice to a homeowner on Rota that a caseworker had gone there but there was nobody at home. There was a blank space where the caseworker was supposed to leave a telephone number for the homeowner to call but it had been left blank. According to the comment on the picture,”Lucky, I don’t really need assistance but I cannot imagine the frustration and despair that other residents may have…”

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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