GUAM TYPHOON DAMAGE ESTIMATED AT $73 MILLION

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 3) - Island leaders estimated damage caused by Supertyphoon Pongsona is in excess of $73 million.

In a letter to David Fukutomi, Federal Emergency Management Agency's federal coordinating officer, Gov. Carl Gutierrez asked that the federal government pay 90 percent of the cost of typhoon restoration.

The combined devastation from the Oct. 13, 2001, earthquake, July's Typhoon Chata'an and December's Supertyphoon Pongsona have strained Guam's finances.

"Clearly the cost to the government of Guam to respond to and recover ... exceeds our ability to meet the 25 percent cost-share requirement," Gutierrez said in the letter.

Fukutomi said he received the letter yesterday and told government officials the request would be processed expeditiously.

"I'm optimistic we'll get positive news," Fukotomi said.

More island residents are able to relax in the comfort of air-conditioned homes as the Guam Power Authority continues to restore power throughout the island.

GPA officials were unable to provide a percentage of the island that has had power restored yesterday.

Areas of the island that had power restored recently include: Inarajan village; parts of Astumbo, Dededo; and parts of Tamuning, Tumon and Chalan Pago.

GPA officials said two more Guam Waterworks Authority water wells, and two more public schools have had their power restored. It also brought "power to the doorstep" of six more schools.

"That means power has been restored to the wires that will energize the schools, and barring any complications, power at those schools can be restored," said GPA response activity coordinator Antonio Gumataotao.

Education officials are working to reopen public schools, but that exact date is unknown.

Officials expect today to release a report detailing the status of the 37 Department of Education schools.

Before they can open schools, officials said they must ensure buildings and campuses are safe, clean drinking water is available and support operations such as busing and cafeteria services are available.

Civil Defense acting Administrator Joe Javellana reported $1 million has been approved for a contract to provide water tanks to all schools. The contract includes booster pumps, perimeter fencing and a three-year maintenance contract.

Officials consolidated the remaining 88 families needing shelter into F.B. Leon Guerrero Middle School in Yigo.

DOE response activity coordinator Eloise Sanchez said Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority representatives will be at that school today to help families who qualify for public housing.

Habitat for Humanity representatives also will be at the school to help residents move from the shelter to tents on their properties.

Several campuses still have typhoon debris that need to be cleared.

There are only about 46 buses available to transport students, though officials said repairs are being made. In mid-November, the Department of Public Works had an average of 130 working buses each day, which was not enough to meet demand.

DPW's Ed Borja said flying debris tore at bus doors and shattered windows.

"We're trying to procure those parts, ... so that we can provide adequate support to the education department," he said, noting Public Works right now is focused on debris removal.

Guam Police Department officials said drivers should remember that Guam National Guard members who are directing traffic at intersections are an extension of the law.

"People are picking up speed ... as roads are being cleared of debris," said Police Chief Ed Kabina. "If you fail to follow their instructions, you will be cited."

January 3, 2003

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com 

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