CNMI MULLS BID FOR FEDERAL DISASTER AID

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By Jude O. Marfil

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Sept. 8) - The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands administration may ask President Bush to declare the CNMI a "disaster area" due to the damage Typhoon Nabi caused in the islands.

Based on a joint preliminary damage assessment conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Office of the Governor, the amount of damage has reached US$1.6 million.

"This means the governor could ask the president to declare the CNMI a disaster area which will enable us to get federal assistance," said Press Secretary Peter A. Callaghan.

However, the CNMI would only be entitled to public assistance aid, which is only for the repair of buildings and roads.

Callaghan said for the CNMI to qualify for individual assistance, there would have to have been at least 100 homes that suffered major damage.

The FEMA-led team found that five homes sustained light damage, 10 had minor damage, six suffered major damage and nine homes were destroyed.

"But this does not preclude individuals from seeking assistance with the Small Business Administration," Callaghan said.

Last week, three FEMA officials flew in from Hawai΄i to conduct a joint preliminary damage assessment with CNMI officials headed by Virginia Villagomez, the governor’s authorized representative, and Emergency Management Office Director Rudy Pua.

The governor has already declared a local state of emergency, which will allow him to use local resources in addressing the damage caused by the typhoon.

Callaghan said FEMA officials will issue their final report next week, which will serve as a basis for the CNMI government to request for a federal disaster area declaration.

September 9, 2005

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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