EVACUATION SLOWS IN NORTHERN MARIANAS

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12 residents remain on battered Alamagan, Agrihan

By Ferdie de la Torre

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Sept. 21, 2009) – Chartering a boat to bring to Saipan the remaining 12 residents of Alamagan and Agrihan may take a while as there's a lengthy process to go through, according to Emergency Management Office deputy director Mark Pangelinan yesterday.

As this developed, the American Red Cross moved from Ada Gym to its shelter Saturday night a family of six, including a newborn baby, who were flown by military helicopter from Alamagan to Saipan Thursday.

Pangelinan told Saipan Tribune that right now the Fitial administration is processing the purchase requisition to finance the charter of the vessel and other related expenses.

"It's a lot of process. We don't know yet [the evacuation operation's exact date]. Even I don't know when," he said.

The EMO official, however, reiterated their position that all remaining residents on Alamagan and Agrihan should be evacuated due to the devastation sustained by both islands in the wake of Super Typhoon Choi-Wan.

"We are going to evacuate everybody. Nobody should be left behind," Pangelinan said.

He said they could not request the U.S. military to evacuate the remaining residents because they already did their part.

"It's now our turn to bring them over. Unless it's a life-and-death situation like a family member dying, then they [military] will help out. But the [residents] are okay," Pangelinan said.

With the evacuation of six individuals, only eight people are left on Alamagan. Four remain on Agrihan.

One of two U.S. Navy helicopters picked up the six from Alamagan Tuesday morning and flew them to Saipan. The baby was born on Alamagan on Sunday.

After being checked, the mother and the baby were released from the Commonwealth Health Center on Friday and brought to the Ada Gymnasium for shelter.

Pangelinan said yesterday that the American Red Cross staff brought the family to their shelter at the Saipan airport Saturday at 8pm.

"It's a family shelter up there and they can accommodate everybody, and the baby too," Pangelinan said.

Super Typhoon Cho-Wan's center passed directly over Alamagan Tuesday afternoon, packing 150 to 160 miles per hour winds.

EMO said everything on Alamagan has been damaged. All six houses were reportedly blown away. EMO will get an assessment report from one of its staff today regarding damage to property on Agrihan.

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