FSM Explores Ways To Help Typhoon Affected Citizens On Guam

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Guam Speaker looking for ‘out of the box’ collaborations with FSM

By Robert Q. Tupaz

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety, July 2, 2015) – Speaker Judi Won Pat said on Wednesday that the leadership of the Federated States of Micronesia is researching ways to assist its citizens residing in Guam who were affected by Typhoon Dolphin.

"I recently met with Consul General Robert Ruecho who said that FSM President Peter Christian had received my letter discussing possible solutions to aid our brothers and sisters from FSM," the speaker stated in her weekly address.

"I am pleased and eager to report that President Christian is exploring the idea and has assigned his officials to look further into it. If it is successful, I am hopeful that we can continue with innovative and out-of-the-box collaboration with FAS Governments," Won Pat added.

The speaker noted that during the storm which hit the island on May 15, one shelter housed 20 different families of FSM citizens. The government of Guam estimated that more than 1000 people sought the safety of the concrete schools during the typhoon.

Won Pat, in the letter she sent to Christian earlier this month, conveyed concerns about the welfare of compact migrants who were affected by Typhoon Dolphin.

She asked, through Christian, that their home governments help. The speaker, who just completed her term as the president of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures, reminded the FSM president that there may be untapped funds available to further help his citizens.

In the June 24 letter, Won Pat cited a provision in the Compact of Free Association between the FSM and the U.S. regarding the Disaster Assistance Emergency Fund or DAEF.

"The DAEF would allow for the FSM government, with required concurrence by the U. S. Chief of Mission, to access funds dedicated to meet immediate threats to life, health and safety of FSM residents in the event of a presidentially-declared emergency or disaster," Won Pat said in letter.

The speaker added in her weekly address "Working collaboratively with all the leaders in Micronesia can only lead to promising relationships that will be beneficial for everyone involved.

The speaker also noted that, locally, many families continue to wade in Typhoon Dolphin’s aftermath. She said in spite of President Obama’s declaration of Guam as a disaster area, which cleared the way for federal public assistance to aid in recovery efforts, the money was designated only for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged government facilities.

FEMA officials denied assistance for individual claims of hardship. The agency informed the government of Guam that despite the president’s disaster declaration, they would not make funds available for individuals and households because the collective severity of damage in that category did not meet the threshold for individual assistance. Calvo said he would appeal the decision. However, even if successful, FAS citizens would still not be able to file claims.

The speaker said she was hopeful that FEMA would reconsider and hoped the FSM government could assist.

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