With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies/University of Hawai'i
By John Ravelo, Staff Reporter
SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (July 11, 2002 - Saipan Tribune) - As the Commonwealth awaits the response of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a joint preliminary damage assessment on Rota, it has been determined that the island will need at least $3.5 million to recover from the destruction caused by Typhoon Chata'an.
This was disclosed by Rota Mayor Benjamin Manglona, in his preliminary damage assessment report submitted to Gov. Juan N. Babauta, following his declaration of the island as a local disaster area.
In a related development, however, the Emergency Management Office said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is asking FEMA's assistance to fund its study mission on Rota, which seeks to identify flood-prone areas on the island so that evacuation of residents would be made systematic.
Although the FEMA has not made any response yet to the CNMI's request for joint damage assessment, EMO federal programs coordinator and lead planner for federal grants Anthony Calvo said the local agency expects some developments today.
Manglona initially pegged the dollar figures needed for rehabilitation of the island at $3.5 million, but said the actual money needed may even be higher. He asked Babauta to use his discretionary fund to support Rota, besides exhausting federal sources.
"We can find, perhaps, upward to $500,000 from [the] First Senatorial [District] appropriations. As you can see, the total cost to cure damage goes well beyond that. We estimate preliminarily, that upward to $3.5 million [is] needed to address Typhoon Chata'an's damage," Manglona stated.
Damage on agriculture -- crops, livestock and fisheries -- is estimated to cost $600,000.
Manglona stated that, based on a report by an extension agent of the Department of Lands and Natural Resources, about 60 farmers on the island totally lost their crops. Fishermen also had to deal with damage to boats, boat shelters and other equipment.
"Six to eight months will be required to get the farmers back in business. This is a vital 'security' issue for Rota," Manglona said.
DLNR public information officer Marianne Teregeyo said that once President George Bush declares Rota as a disaster area, farmers can avail of funding -- besides that offered by the FEMA -- from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency.
Teregeyo said the agency would assist in funding the purchase of seeds to allow farmers to replant crops that were destroyed by the typhoon. "If President Bush declares Rota a disaster area, they can apply for it."
Also estimated at $600,000 is the rehabilitation need of infrastructure, particularly primary and secondary roads. Manglona said there is a need for a major cleanup from San Francisco Songsong Village to the airport primary roadway due to fallen trees.
Such rehabilitation is also needed for other primary and secondary roads on the island, including the roadway from Pona to Gagani to Sagua, which was considered to be the most heavily damaged. "It may take three weeks to do the necessary restoration," the mayor said, adding that equipment such as a dump truck, payloader and chainsaw are also needed.
Damage assessment for parks and recreational facilities were pegged at $575,000. Typhoon Chata'an permanently destroyed four thatched-roof huts that had graced the shoreline at Chamorro Village.
"At our Talu' Park, we find five huts damaged and 24 plants and trees ruined," stated the report.
Seaports and the airport had an assessed damage of $275,000. The situation has affected commercial and private boating, and even the operations of the Department of Public Safety's Boating Safety, Manglona stated.
Also stated in the preliminary damage assessment report were debris cleaning and clearing, $275,000; disaster personnel overtime, $135,000; private sector damage, $300,000; ponding basin/drainage, $250,000; and public utilities, $73,000.
Meanwhile, Calvo said the Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of conducting a coastal inundation study for Rota, in order to identify flood-prone areas.
The Corps will also conduct a similar study on Guam.
=A9 1997-2002 Pacific Islands Development Program