Marianas Variety

Last updateTue, 23 Jul 2019 12am







    Sunday, July 21, 2019-7:35:01A.M.






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Rota recovery efforts ongoing

GOVERNOR Ralph D.L.G. Torres on Friday said 60 percent of Rota’s power and 100 percent of the water service had been restored.

In a press conference to discuss the post-typhoon situation on Rota and Tinian, Torres said Commonwealth Utilities Corp. personnel had been on the ground since day one, assisting the community and working on the damaged power and telephone poles.

He said over 100 Marines were also helping remove debris and cleaning up the schools on Rota in preparation for the resumption of classes this week.

The Rota Health Center has been energized and Bank of Guam resumed  operations on Thursday.

Torres said they are still finalizing the assessment the damage to crops, infrastructure and livelihood on Rota, Tinian and Saipan.  But he added that the priority will be Rota which was hit by Typhoon Mangkhut on Monday last week.

The governor said the assessment and request for federal assistance will be ready by this week.

He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency “has been  an excellent partner with the Department of Defense. I  thank them for their patience and resilience. They are really nice people.”

Torres said that an initial preliminary report on Tinian indicated that around 300 individuals had been affected by the typhoon which also caused some major damage on the islands.

The governor encouraged the community to report any incident of “over pricing.”

On Friday, Torres and Tinian lawmakers met with Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, Joint Region Marianas and Task Force West commander, and Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group or ESG commander, Friday,  to thank the military for its support in the aftermath of Typhoon Mangkhut.

The governor was joined by Tinian Mayor Joey P. San Nicolas and Federal Coordinating Officer Willie Nunn, of the Federal Emergency Management Agency at a ceremony during which support efforts were transitioned to the Department of Defense units in Joint Region Marianas commanded by Chatfield.

“Thank you for all the efforts that you guys have made,” said Torres. “I think the people of CNMI have realized that this cooperation and collaboration with each other is a lot better, and things are moving smoothly. We can’t thank all of you guys enough.”

According to the governor’s office, Wasp ESG units concluded defense support to civil authorities from amphibious ships as part of U.S. Seventh Fleet relief efforts off the coast of Guam and the CNMI. The ships of the Wasp ESG including amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) and dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) provided crucial air support for logistic operations moving personnel and equipment between Guam, Saipan, Tinian and Rota.

The governor’s office said Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, and Combat Logistics Battalion 31 with the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, assisted in debris removal throughout Rota with more than 100 Marines and sailors helping clear roadways and various obstacles using chainsaws and axes along nine miles of the island’s main roads.

Since Typhoon Mangkhut struck Rota last week, U.S. Navy sailors and Marines have been providing critical support to the island’s recovery efforts. Photo shows members of a U.S. military rescue and recovery group with Board of Education Chairwoman MaryLou S. Ada and Vice Chairwoman  Janice Marie A. Tenorio at Dr. Rita H. Inos Jr.-Sr. High School where students prepared a meal for the servicemembers on Friday.  Marianas Variety photo Since Typhoon Mangkhut struck Rota last week, U.S. Navy sailors and Marines have been providing critical support to the island’s recovery efforts. Photo shows members of a U.S. military rescue and recovery group with Board of Education Chairwoman MaryLou S. Ada and Vice Chairwoman Janice Marie A. Tenorio at Dr. Rita H. Inos Jr.-Sr. High School where students prepared a meal for the servicemembers on Friday. Marianas Variety photo

“I want to thank our local and federal government partners, DoD service members and government employees for their dedication and efforts here in the CNMI to restore our island community, said Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, “It is critical moments like these when our partnership is strongest.”

While the bulk of relief efforts were focused on Rota, the 51 sailors and Marines who were on Tinian during the storm preparing to participate in exercise Valiant Shield joined the local community in the restoration of their island, the governor’s office said.

“I want to join the governor in expressing our thanks, particularly the people of Tinian’s,” said Mayor San Nicolas. “Tinian benefited immensely; with those 51 members of Valiant Shield plus the heavy equipment. I jokingly said to one of the Marines that you did the work of 200 people. I’m proud to announce Mr. Governor, that the majority of the work was done on day one.”

FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Willie Nunn credited the cooperation between the CNMI government and the military for the quick deployment of personnel and resources after the storm.

“I’m really grateful to hear about the immediate response and the partnership that was developing even before a presidential declaration had come,” said Nunn. “That partnership you have and the leadership you have in place only enhances what I do.”

In addition to clearing debris on the ground in Tinian and Rota, the governor’s office said Wasp ESG provided support in the form of MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft and CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 (Rein.), and MH-60S Seahawk helicopters with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 which completed 63 sorties that facilitated over 550 personnel transfers and delivery of around 29,465 lbs. of cargo including drinking water, in support of FEMA-led efforts to aid local authorities.

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group also supported relief efforts by flying 11 sorties covering a combined distance of more than 2,500 miles. In addition, USS Antietam (CG 54) took up a position to act as a floating refueling point to aid helicopters that were transporting people, supplies and equipment between islands.

Forces in Joint Region Marianas, including Navy Mobile Construction Battalion One, Detachment Guam, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam and the “Island Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 will continue supporting FEMA and local agencies in the region as recovery efforts continue, the governor’s office said.

“Sailors and Marines from the Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group should take great pride in the work they did for the great Americans living in the CNMI,” Rear Adm. Brad Cooper said. “The Navy-Marine Corps team arrived early, fully trained and made a positive impact on the lives of our fellow citizens.”

Ayuda for Luta

On Saturday, Governor Torres joined the relief operations for Rota at the Garapan Fishing Base from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. that was spearheaded by Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services personnel led by Commissioner Clyde Norita.

Executive branch officials and personnel as well as lawmakers and staffers  were also there to assist in the relief drive.

People from all walks of life delivered water, canned goods, clothing, rice and other basic commodities for the typhoon-stricken community of Rota.

Senators led by Senate President Arnold I. Palacios and some members of the House like Rep. Angel A. Demapan also donated goods.

Soon, hundreds of boxes of various supplies and commodities filled two shipping containers.

Governor Torres said there will be a third container of relief supplies.

2018 Miss Marianas Celine Cabrera, for her part, helped DFEMS with cash donations from passing motorists.

The governor said the American Red Cross will distribute the relief supplies on Rota.

Businesses donate

In related news, Chinese businesses on Saipan led by Ming Liang Qiang, owner of the Ming Li Store in As Lito, donated $2,000 worth of relief goods for Rota typhoon victims. These included clothes, canned goods, bottled water, rice and iced tea.

Other donors were Hutai International, New Field Saipan Corp., Guangzhu Restaurant, the Yeung Family, Amber Saipan Co. Ltd., L&Q Corp, Royal Supplier, Xu Huaxuan, Yu Bo Corp., Free Town Market and Qui Boyu.

House Floor Leader Glenn Maratita and Rep. Leepan Guerrero received the goods on Saturday morning.

Maratita, Rota’s lone House member, thanked the Chinese business community for its generosity.

He said the donations will go a long way to help the people of Rota.

Rep. Leepan Guerrero thanked the Chinese businesses for reaching out to him to offer their assistance.

“This is not it —  there’s more to be added, and House Floor Leader Maratita will coordinate how to best transport these goods to Rota. I thanked the businesses for their effort and ask other businesses to continue helping our community on Rota.”