‘Wrong addresses’ stymie FEMA checks


Hundreds of CNMI residents who have been expecting financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency have not received their checks due to incorrect addresses.

Following the devastation of Super Typhoon Yutu, hundreds of CNMI residents applied for assistance with FEMA.

In light of the recent disaster, FEMA provided immediate financial assistance to all eligible applicants worth $500.

Unfortunately, many did not receive the immediate assistance due to a mishap with addresses.

Unverified reports stated that the U.S. Postal Service in the CNMI has been returning FEMA checks because they were addressed to lot numbers and home mail delivery system is not used on Saipan or Tinian.

In a previous post from the Office of the Governor, residents were warned that P.O. boxes should not be used when applying for federal assistance because it would not be accepted. Instead, residents were encouraged to look up their lot number with the Department of Public Lands.

In an email from FEMA public information officer Paul Corah, he confirmed that checks were being sent back to the agency. “We ran into a small problem. Checks are being returned to FEMA,” he said.

Paul said that FEMA has been working to mail the checks to P.O. boxes.

“We are sending the checks to the P.O. boxes the survivors gave FEMA. These P.O. boxes have to be up to date, with fees paid so survivors can get their money. We ask if any survivors are expecting a check that has not arrived to contact FEMA right away,” he said.

The U.S. Postal Service has yet to comment on the situation.

According a woman who requested that she not be identified, she received an email about two weeks after applying for financial assistance that said she was eligible for $500. The email said that the assistance would cover immediate necessities following a disaster like clothing, food, and more.

After about a week of waiting for her check, she said she decided to call the FEMA hotline to follow up about her financial assistance and was told it might take up to two weeks for the check to arrive by mail.

Now, a month following Super Typhoon Yutu, she has yet to receive her check. She was also told at the Disaster Recovery Center at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center to provide a P.O. box and her check would be re-mailed to her.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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