CNMI Voluntary Organizations Cooperate For Long-Term Recovery

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Group will continue operating autonomously, coordinate efforts

By Junhan B. Todiño

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Aug. 28, 2015) – The local Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster or VOAD will continue to work cooperatively to ensure the long-term recovery of Saipan from the devastation left behind by Typhoon Soudelor, according to the group’s interim chair, CNMI Salvation Army Ministry Leader Wayne Gillespie.

"Each one of us has things we agreed to do," he said, adding that some national organizations will also extend their expertise, citing the Adventist Community Services team, which is here to help set up and manage a centralized warehouse operation and donation management system.

But Gillespie said the VOAD is not itself providing services but its individual organization members.

The member-organizations will continue to retain their own autonomy and have control over the donations and resources they are receiving.

"It is a collective effort. We don’t collect money but each member-organization brings their assets to the table," Gillespie said.

"So now we have lots of stuff in the warehouse and we actually know what we have that we can tap in addition to what the agency has," he said, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

On Monday, representatives of the VOAD, FEMA and the CNMI government inspected the donation warehouse, which, Variety was told, will not provide direct assistance to typhoon victims.

For his part, Adventist Community Services disaster response director Sean Robinson said they have completed the training of 20 local individuals for disaster preparedness and donation management.

FEMA Pacific Area Office voluntary agency liaison Michael Kern said they have also discussed setting up a distribution center, the creation of a long-term recovery committee, among other related topics, while working with several local non-government organizations in filling the warehouse with supplies for distribution.

On Wednesday, the group created a nominating committee that will select a set of officers for the local VOAD.

After the election of officers today, Friday, Gillespie said the new officers may consider amending their by-laws to conform to the needs and situation on Saipan.

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