Its been over half a year since Typhoon Soudelor left our neighboring islands in a state of disaster.
Guam – PNC first met Jenny Hegland almost 7 months ago in the aftermath of Typhoon Soudelor. With her coordination of volunteers under the grassroots volunteer group, United 4 Saipan, immediate assistance and supplies were provided to those in need.
Today she serves as the director of CARE, the Commonwealth Advocates for Recovery Efforts, a 501(c)(3) which connects over 60 organizations and businesses to rebuild a resilient community and to identify, facilitate and deliver resources and long term support to address unmet needs of those impacted by the disaster.
Hegland says, “The needs are constantly changing. It is a moving target in a way in terms of hat we are working with. People are amazingly resilient and resourceful. People who have unmet housing needs are finding creative ways to repair their homes as best they can. What we are interested in is resiliency. So their houses are stronger the next time a typhoon comes around than when Typhoon Soudelor hit.”
The American Red Cross Disaster Case Management identified 591 families with unmet needs ranging from emotional care and food to clothing and repair. Hegland noted that the island’s labor shortage has delayed some of the group’s effort.
She says, “Our volunteer events have been primarily focused on debris removal…We do not have skilled construction workers to be able to oversee large scale repair and rebuilding jobs yet.”
CARE so far has directed $100,000 to resources and rebuilding, which assisted 24 families in rebuilding their homes. The local network continues to seek help from national networks such as VOAD, the Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters, for manpower. Two groups are already expected to travel to Saipan to assist in rebuilding.
Hegland explains, “We need to work together to decide how we can best invest community resources and government resources in resiliency.”
In total the projected cost for complete rebuilding and repairing is 13.9 million dollars. CARE has requested for $3 million from the Marianas Public Land Trust for individuals of northern marinas decent and a $5 million operating budget over two years from the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation.
She says, “This is about investing in sustainable building that will sustain the next disaster. It is not if we have the next disaster it is when. With climate change we know that the likelihood of severe natural disasters in our region is extremely high.
To learn more about CARE’s efforts and how you can get involved visit www.cnmicare.com