ROTA NEEDS FEDERAL HELP: CNMI EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT OFFICE

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By John Ravelo Staff Reporter

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (July 17, 2002 – Saipan Tribune)---With the scheduled visit of a four-man team from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to Rota this week, the Emergency Management Office said the island deserves federal help, considering it is also a U.S. territory like Guam.

EMO deputy director Mark S. Pangelinan said he is optimistic that President George Bush would declare Rota a disaster area, as federal aid would help the severely devastated island recover.

"With all the damage that [Rota] sustained, I think the [people of Rota] should be eligible [for federal aid]. That’s a lot of damage in Rota," Pangelinan said.

"In the case of Guam, the President came [out] with a swift declaration in less than one week. Chuuk also got assistance," he said. "Rota needs help...just like Guam and Chuuk state."

Rota Mayor Benjamin Manglona, in his preliminary damage assessment report, said at least $3.5 million is needed to rehabilitate the destruction caused by Typhoon Chata’an on the island.

The damage to crops, livestock and fisheries was estimated at $600,000 and topped Manglona’s list. At least 60 farmers lost their crops, while fishermen incurred 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. We must have a source of food should we be cut off by a September 11 incident," Manglona stated in his report.

There were major damages to infrastructure and other facilities on the island, according to Manglona’s report.

Pangelinan said the FEMA team expected to visit Rota would check the veracity of Manglona’s report.

"They’ll be there to assess and verify all the damages on Rota at the request of the governor and the mayor," Pangelinan said.

The team will then submit its findings to FEMA’s Region 9 office in Oakland, California, based on procedure. It is the regional office that will make a recommendation to the FEMA national headquarters regarding whether or not the latter should endorse Rota’s declaration as a disaster area to Bush.

The FEMA team’s arrival on Rota was announced by Babauta, who had requested that the federal agency prepare a joint damage assessment report. With the expected arrival of the team, Pangelinan said this is tantamount to FEMA’s approval of Babauta’s request.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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