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Last updateTue, 23 Apr 2019 12am







    Monday, April 22, 2019-2:49:53P.M.






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Governor requests Trump to declare major disaster for NMI

GOVERNOR Ralph D.L.G. Torres on Thursday signed a letter requesting President Donald Trump to issue a major disaster declaration that will allow the CNMI, especially Rota, to receive federal assistance.

Rota was devasted by Typhoon Mangkhut on Sept. 10.

Ralph D.L.G. Torres

The governor signed the document in the presence of Willie Nunn, federal coordinating officer of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Senate President Arnold I. Palacios and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Angel A. Demapan at the Emergency Operation Center on Capital Hill.

Nunn said signing the request is the first step and once the president approves it, FEMA will assess what assistance is needed and then distribute assistance to any affected individuals or entities.

The governor said he requested individual and public assistance, including for Saipan and Tinian.

He said he is hoping the president will approve the request soon so the rebuilding of damaged public utilities and infrastructure as well as private residences can begin.

Initial assessment indicated that 662 families were affected on Rota, and a total 738 for the entire Commonwealth, including Tinian and Saipan.

Vicky Villagomez, head of the Office of Budget and Management, said the amount of federal assistance is likely to be significant.

“We don’t know what would be the final number, we would find out later once its documented, but it’s going to be a significant amount of money. We do know that we met the threshold,” she added.

Torres said after Typhoon Soudelor, they requested for $20 million in federal assistance but the actual amount allotted reached $187 million.

The governor said he is thankful to “our local and federal partners in the recovery and restoration efforts on Rota.”

He said CUC line crewmembers are still on Rota  where about 90 percent of the power has been restored.

The American Red Cross is helping distribute relief goods, and  donors are still contributing one way or another, he added.

 “We hope our request for a declaration of disaster meets all the criteria and we look forward to a positive response from the president. Again this would never happen without the excellent collaboration and cooperation and commitment from each and every one of us.”

Nunn, for his part, told the governor: “Thank you for your partnership in getting this done. Just like what the governor said nothing happens without our whole community approach. The federal government was tasked to come up with an emergency declaration and we are happy to do so. I would like to say thank you to your community in Rota, the mayor and the people, and the mayors of Tinian and  Saipan. We are here today for you to sign this request because you were very proactive and we are thankful to get the assessment done, and this is the first step and the next step is to see what other potential support we can provide. This is a great moment:  less than 10 days we are already here — this is very positive.”