Governor visits Rota; preliminary damage assessments underway

Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres joins first responders in removing a fallen power pole from a public road on Rota, Tuesday. Picture: Facebook photo via Marianas Variety

SAIPAN, 13 SEPTEMBER 2018 (MARIANAS VARIETY) – CNMI governor Ralph Torres on Tuesday joined Lt. Governor Victor B. Hocog and Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig at a meeting on Rota with Federal Emergency Management Agency and U.S. military officials to discuss damage assessment and recovery and relief efforts for the island which was hit by Typhoon Mangkhut on Monday.

According to the CNMI Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management or HSEM, the meeting resulted in a commitment to provide temporary shelter, food, and water for displaced families and residents on Rota.

Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. officials Esther Muna and Warren Villagomez also joined the governor to assess the Rota Health Centre.

“Military partners agreed to provide transportation for first responders between the four major islands of Saipan, Tinian, Rota, and Guam. Individual assistance assessments on Rota also began…with the assistance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, CNMI government departments and agencies, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,” HSEM said.

Commonwealth Utilities Corp. Executive Director Gary Camacho joined personnel deployed to Rota to assess power, water, and utility damage throughout the island.

HSEM said as a result of the governor and his staff’s forward thinking, the CNMI was able to obtain approval of an emergency declaration from President Donald Trump on Tuesday.

“The approval of the emergency declaration will greatly assist in helping the CNMI rebuild. As FEMA continues to establish a clearer picture of the amount of damage caused by Typhoon Mangkhut, Governor Torres wants to assure the general public that help is on the way,” HSEM stated.

“Damage assessment for public and residential facilities will continue to be conducted on all three islands. We are allocating and prioritising the necessary government resources for recovery efforts and mass care assistance on the island of Rota. We, along with our federal and military partners, will continue to monitor emergency support functions on all three islands with a specific focus on the needs of our people on Rota,” the governor added.

The governor, through his authorised representative Virginia Villagomez and Homeland Security & Emergency Management Special Assistant Gerald J. Deleon Guerrero, is coordinating the delivery of FEMA generators to Rota, HSEM said.

“These generators will help provide power for critical public services. Governor Torres also coordinated with the Department of Defense on the delivery of water for the island of Rota.”

Rota Health Center has power, HSEM said.

“Feeder 1 remains down pending completion of the replacement of downed power poles. CUC personnel were working on the replacement of fallen power poles and were expected to complete that work by the end of the day.

“Five percent of Feeder 2 is back online.“Fifty-five percent of Feeder 3 is back online.

“Water service from Juan Barcinas residence, Sinapalo 1 to the Chenchon area is back online. Water service was shut down from the Post Office to the old Rota High School for repair work. Crews immediately repaired and restored service to the area. Overall water service on Rota is 98 percent online. The remaining 2 percent is due to low or no water pressure.”

According to HSEM, American Red Cross damage assessment manager Randy Neeman, conducted a training session for first responders and Rota municipal government employees on Wednesday, and they are expected to conduct assessments on Rota throughout the week.

“Teams left on Wednesday morning to the islands of Rota (and Tinian) to assist local volunteers and partner agencies in training and conducting damage assessments on their respective islands. These assessments will assist in determining the impact and scope of damage from Mangkhut.”

Government operations on Rota will resume as scheduled Thursday.

The American Red Cross sent six pallets of relief supplies via ship to Rota on Wednesday. Supplies included cleaning kits, flashlights, mosquito nets, blankets, hygiene kits, water containers, tarps and cots. Supplies will be sent to Tinian as well pending further assessment.

American Red Cross staff and volunteers from the mainland U.S. are also in the CNMI to support ongoing relief work. “These responders are experts in disaster response and recovery. Many partner agencies, including government and nonprofit agencies have stepped up to assist with damage assessments and helping to transport supplies,” HSEM said.

“Fifty volunteers from the Saipan community and partner government agencies received training on how to conduct damage assessments on Tuesday. After training, these volunteers performed assessments today throughout the island of Saipan.

More Stories