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Last updateSat, 15 Jun 2019 12am







    Sunday, June 16, 2019-8:35:54P.M.






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FEMA official visits Saipan and Tinian; tent/roofing program application deadline extended; residents urged to clear debris

(CNMI Joint Information Center) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s regional administrator for Region IX, Robert Fenton, visited the islands of Saipan and Tinian recently. Fenton, who has been with FEMA since 1996, was appointed as Region IX regional administrator in July 2015 and has been involved in recovery efforts post- Paka, Pongsana, Chata’an, Soudelor and now, Yutu.

During his visit, Fenton toured the newly designated Emergency Shelter Facility in Kagman, the Marpi landfill and the Saipan Mayor’s Office along with the CNMI governor’s authorized representative Virginia Villagomez, Deputy Regional Administrator, Region IX, William Roche, federal coordinating officer Benigno Ruiz and several of the CNMI’s leadership.

Progression on debris collection and review of the island’s debris reduction plans with Saipan Mayor David Apatang and the touring of federal facilities used to stage resources and distribution for the Kagman Emergency Shelter Facility were some of the covered discussions during his tour.

Fenton assures the CNMI: “FEMA will be here, has been here prior to the storm, and will continue to be here during not only the repair and restoration time phases, but also during and helping with the long-term recovery phase. We (FEMA) have people who are committed to service and who are from all over the country to provide a 110 percent effort to the CNMI. It’s a mission that we like to do, and we are glad to be here fulfilling this mission.”

Temporary Emergency Tent and Roofing Installation Support program deadline extended

On November 5, 2018, the CNMI government, in coordination with FEMA, the Department of Defense  and the American Red Cross, introduced the Temporary Emergency Tent and Roofing Installation Support program. TETRIS was designed to offer assistance to residents of Saipan and Tinian who experienced extensive damage to their homes as a result of Yutu.

“In an effort to service the traffic and number of residential walk-ins, we (CNMI leadership) have decided to extend the deadline to submit a right of entry form for TETRIS consideration from December 8 to December 15. We encourage every impacted resident on Saipan to take advantage of this unique program,” states CNMI governor’s authorized representative Virginia Villagomez.

In preparation for Public School System campuses opening their doors last week and this week, those managing the TETRIS operation focused on providing tents and temporary roofs for displaced families in shelters. Acceptance of the TETRIS applications was extended another week to service and focus displaced residents who did not seek shelter in one of the government shelters.

Although TETRIS is a program implemented by the CNMI government, funding is provided by FEMA and is coordinated by our Department of Defense partners. CNMI and DOD provide installations; however, CNMI is the sole entity determining who receives tents.

To apply for the program, residents must complete a right of entry form which may be obtained by visiting the Koblerville Fire Station or the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center at the Multi-purpose Center in Susupe. Applying for individual assistance through FEMA and applying for the TETRIS program are two separate processes and require two separate applications.

The TETRIS program on Tinian has ended, and residents who needed assistance through the program has been completed. A total of 202 tents were erected on the island of Tinian.

As of December 9, the CNMI government and DOD had installed a total of 1,344 tents and had repaired 93 roofs on the island of Saipan. These numbers are expected to increase as more displaced residents in shelters are expected to avail eligibility of the TETRIS program.

For questions regarding the TETRIS program on Saipan, call the Koblerville Fire Station as  664-9083.

Again, deadline to submit a right of entry form has been extended to Saturday, December 15, 2018.

Power and water restoration

At 9:45 a.m., Friday morning, the Maui well on Tinian was energized bringing 95 percent of Tinian’s critical infrastructure onto the island’s power grid.

The Tinian International Airport remains offline while CUC crews revert focus to getting homes on grid power while making their way to the Tinian International Airport.

An additional 65 utility poles arrived on Saipan earlier this week, some of which were transported to Tinian, from San Bernadino, California in support of power restoration efforts.

Focus on CUC’s progression towards power restoration on Saipan continues to prioritize the energizing of primary lines in preparation to energize areas inward.

Water production on Saipan is 95 percent online and 100 percent on Tinian.

Shelter and transportation

Consolidation of multiple shelters into one main facility was successfully completed by the CNMI government earlier this week. All displaced families were transitioned from their previous shelter into the new emergency shelter facility in Kagman.

The CNMI government also continues to assist shelterees requiring medical equipment who previously sought shelter at the Aging and HOPE centers. The consolidation was done to better focus on needs of the shelterees by centralizing resources.

Feeding of shelterees is now being fully provided by the CNMI government. Disaster assistance including assisting these families with the TETRIS program registration is ongoing and will continue until each family has been provided assistance.

COTA also continues to provide transportation for families in the shelter to go to and from medical appointments and for a small fee, also offer transportation to visit their homes to ensure their belongings are safe.

A number of temporary emergency evacuation shelters first opened their doors on October 24, 2018 in response to Super Typhoon Yutu. At the peak of shelter operations, a total of 15 shelters were opened housing nearly 1,100 displaced residents who were unable to return and safely live in their current residence due to major storm damage.

The Kagman Emergency Shelter Facility or KESF officially opened its doors on December 3, 2018 in efforts to house and consolidate the existing shelterees from Gregorio T. Camacho Elementary School, Tanapag Middle School, Kagman Elementary School, the HOPE Recovery Center and the Office of Aging.

Various agencies and non-profit organizations played key roles in identifying needs and maintaining overall safety, comfort and care for displaced residents since the opening of the evacuation shelters.

A special thanks to the CNMI government, the Public School System, the CNMI Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, the Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation, Hope Recovery Center, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the American Red Cross, the Maturana House of Prayer, and all organizations that contributed to the overall sheltering efforts.

As of Saturday, December 8, 2018, the KESF’s population was 156. The KESF population is expected to steadily decrease as shelterees return home as a result of qualifying for the TETRIS program.

In the meantime, the CNMI government and FEMA continue to collaborate in assisting impacted residents by providing more long-term housing solutions.

Public feeding and relief efforts

The American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, MyPros, the Northern Marianas Technical Institute, DOD and the CNMI government have one way or another helped tremendously in feeding not only the shelter population, but have helped with public feeding as well.

Samaritan’s Purse, Karidat, the Lady Diann Foundation and various church and non-profit organizations including key private sector partners such as Tan Holdings, Bridge Capital, Joeten, IT&E, Docomo and Matson, whether monetary, in-kind or service donations, have also pitched in to assist with relief efforts.

Many private sector companies such as Bank of Guam and some autonomous agencies like the Commonwealth Ports Authority have disbursed or plan on disbursing monetary relief aid to their employees to assist with recovery efforts.

On behalf of the CNMI government, we cannot begin to express how the business and private sector partnerships are vital towards CNMI’s recovery efforts.

Debris removal

Debris removal is an ongoing process and the CNMI government, specifically the Saipan Mayor’s Office, the Department of Public Works and our FEMA and DOD partners are working collaboratively to clear debris from Saipan and Tinian. More trucks and equipment have been transported to Saipan to assist with this task.

It is important to emphasize the need for residents to remove debris before the end of December. This program will not last forever and requires full cooperation of residents in order to successfully complete this mission.

Debris not separated accordingly will not be picked up and will then become the responsibility of each resident to remove debris at their own cost. If regular day-to-day household trash is intermingled with lumber, tin and green waste piles, debris crews will not pick up waste; therefore, the CNMI government is urging residents who currently have household trash mixed-in with debris piles, to remove them from properly sorted piles, and to dispose them by bringing household garbage to the As Gonno or Marpi landfill sites.

As a reminder, these are the different piles of debris that must be separated accordingly:

1. Green waste (trees, shrubs, plants, grass, etc.)

2. Tin (roofing metal, metal sheets, etc.)

3. Lumber (plywood, 2x2s, 2x4s, etc.)

4. Household Waste (mattresses, furniture damaged by Yutu, does not include daily household trash)

The EPA and BECQ have also announced the roll-out of the white goods, electronics and household hazardous materials curbside pick-up program.

1. White goods (refrigerators, washers, dryers, etc.)

2. Electronics (television sets, computers, PC units, etc.)

3. Household hazardous waste (paints, solvents, pesticides and other chemicals)

Residents can also drop off debris at the following Saipan locations:

  • • Lower Base Transfer Station: Now until December 14, 7:30am to 4:50pm, seven days a week
  • • As Gonno Staging Area (Kobler Airfield, near Tottottville)

Last round of debris pick-up is slated for December 17 on Saipan.

Leaning forward

Schools will continue to operate in double sessions for some campuses, but in the meantime, the CNMI government along with FEMA and PSS will be building temporary schools to alleviate the population on combined campuses. Simultaneously, the CNMI government in partnership with FEMA, plans on leveraging mitigation funds and are ready to devise strategies to construct not just more infrastructurally-sound school buildings, but technologically advanced ones as well.

Post-Soudelor, CUC received mitigation funds to harden Saipan’s power and water systems. A total of 97 percent of utility poles funded under those mitigation funds withstood Yutu. Both CNMI and FEMA wish to build an even more sound infrastructure, one that will not discontinue water services into homes after disasters. And one that will sustain even stronger winds for future disasters.

This forward-thinking in terms of hardening the CNMI’s critical infrastructure also includes the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport. Once recovery efforts are closer to completion, the CNMI government also plans on looking into what the government and the Commonwealth Ports Authority can do to harden what supports our biggest money-making industry in the CNMI, tourism.

Challenges ahead

Our biggest challenge with resiliency is how far the CNMI is geographically from the continental U.S. and how this poses a logistical challenge. Because of that, most of the CNMI’s projects and supply including navigational aids needed to bring the airport back to life post-Yutu, were hindered.

However, the current administration is determined to improve on hardening the CNMI’s critical infrastructure across the board.

Message of appreciation

Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres thanks the entire CNMI for their patience as we all recover from Yutu.

“It is important to address the community and how each and every one of you should be commended for remaining patient throughout this recovery,” he said. “We will keep trucking forward with plans to always improve and increase resiliency in our islands. On behalf of the CNMI government, our first responders and our FEMA counterparts, DOD partners and multiple non-governmental organizations, we thank you all for keeping your spirits high. One Team. One Fight. One Marianas. Si Yu’us Ma’ase and Gilisow for believing in the process and supporting our progress.”