FEMA On CNMI Debris Removal; Not Involved In Contracts

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Feds say they did not reject contract as claimed by Public Works

By Junhan B. Todiño

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Dec. 1, 2015) – The Federal Emergency Management Agency has no involvement in the contract with a private company for the post-typhoon debris removal on Saipan, FEMA external affairs officer Ron Roth told Variety.

In an email, he said "FEMA does not get involved in approving or disapproving debris contracts."

He also said that FEMA does not set a limit on how much it will reimburse a contractor for the debris-removal operation.

Roth said it is the responsibility of the local government to determine if it wishes to remove debris from public land or to contract that work out to another source.

"That is a contractual agreement between the local government and the private contractor," he added.

However, he said FEMA will reimburse eligible applicants 90 percent of the removal cost for all "eligible debris" as a result of Typhoon Soudelor.

Based on historical data obtained from the Pacific region, he said it has been determined that a reasonable rate for removing debris is $62.3 per cubic yard, and this would be the amount that FEMA is willing to reimburse the local governments for debris removed from public lands.

Roth said FEMA will continue to work with applicants to identify and quantify eligible debris for reimbursement.

"The final dollar amount that FEMA will reimburse for eligible debris cannot be known until the applicants have completed and documented their debris-removal work," he added.

The Department of Public Works last week told lawmakers that FEMA rejected the proposed $4.2 million contract for a debris-removal operation in the villages, and was willing to reimburse the CNMI only up to $600,000.

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