U.S. DISASTER AGENCY UPS ANTE IN YAP

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By Katie Worth

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, April 30) - Yap residents who still are struggling in the aftermath of Typhoon Sudal will get help under the Federal Emergency Management Agency's individual assistance program.

This week, FEMA announced that the assistance for individuals would be given to Yap residents who were hit with the typhoon on April 9.

The agency also announced it will expand disaster assistance to the island state to pay for 75 percent of the costs of repairing or replacing damaged public facilities such as roads, buildings and utilities.

FEMA's individual assistance program includes funding for temporary disaster housing assistance and replacement grants to help meet serious disaster-related needs and expenses not covered by insurance or other assistance programs, stated a Guam FEMA office news release. The aid also will include Small Business Administration low-interest loans for homeowners, renters and businesses to repair or replace property, the news release stated.

John Treanor, the FEMA spokesman on Guam, said the agency has set up a Disaster Recovery Center in Colonia, Yap's capital.

Earlier this month, President Bush had declared Yap a major disaster area.

There are 46 FEMA workers on Yap and 64 workers on Guam, Treanor said.

He said the agency would have more workers on Yap if there wasn't a severe shortage of beds and vehicles.

The individual assistance program has been much-awaited on Yap, where the biggest problem facing typhoon victims still is shelter, said Tom Lutte, an assistant information officer at the Yap Disaster Command Center in Colonia.

A preliminary damage assessment by the Red Cross earlier this month counted 700 homes, or 40 percent of the island's homes destroyed by the typhoon and another 598, or 35 percent that sustained major damage.

"The individual assistance is something people have been waiting for -- they're really looking for some help to start rebuilding some of the houses that got damaged," Lutte said.

He said many people have made temporary repairs to their homes, and blue FEMA tarps can be seen throughout the island as temporary roofs and walls.

The island's main power lines have been restored and the secondary lines going through the villages are slowly being repaired by the island's utility agency, he said.

Leaks in water lines through the villages are being repaired. Those who do have water are limited to using it only during certain hours, Lutte said.

On Sunday, the island's Disaster Relief Committee received nine containers of relief supplies from Guam, via a shipment by Matson Navigation Co. The supplies have been inventoried and are being distributed to those who need it through the council of village chiefs.

April 30, 2004

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

 

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