Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) has issued the following message to the people of the Northern Mariana Islands in the immediate aftermath of Typhoon Soudelor:
Climbing through the downed trees on the roads from my mother’s house, where I spent the night of the storm, to my home in Garapan, I was shaken by the extent of the devastation left behind by Typhoon Soudelor.
The prayers of our community go out to all who have suffered injuries and destruction to home and business. We can at least be relieved that there has been no loss of life reported.
I want everyone to know that your congressional office is here to support the Commonwealth’s recovery, and that the federal government is moving quickly to assist in this state of emergency.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Region IX office has deployed an Incident Management Assistance Team to Saipan, and FEMA is working with the Commonwealth government to support the disaster response effort and make a preliminary damage assessment.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have also deployed personnel to assist. And U.S. Department of Energy staff is on Saipan coordinating with local officials and the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation on power restoration and fuel cleanup efforts.
Right now, food, water, cots, small generators, and other emergency supplies are being shipped in from Hawaii and Guam. The Army Corps is ready to provide larger generators for the hospital and wastewater treatment facility, if needed.
A larger scale, long-term federal response will require completion of the damage assessment. If your homes or businesses have suffered damage, please report this to your Mayor’s office or other local officials, so that your information can be added to the assessment. FEMA also advises that you document this damage, if you can, as a basis for any federal aid that becomes available after you have begun cleanup and repairs.
The Acting Governor has already issued a Declaration of Major Disaster and Significant Emergency. The next step, once the damage assessment is ready, would be for the Acting Governor to make a formal request for federal assistance. FEMA reviews this request before sending its own recommendation to the President.
Your congressional office is standing ready to support the Commonwealth’s request with FEMA and with the President. We have already alerted the White House to the possibility that assistance will be required. We are also in touch with FEMA on Guam and the mainland and we are keeping the congressional offices with responsibility for insular areas informed of events.
I will continue to post updates to the congressional website—http://sablan.house.gov—and to my Facebook pages in order to provide people with as much information as possible about the response efforts.