Today marks one year since Typhoon Soudelor devastated our neighboring island of Saipan. At this time last year, a vast majority of residents lost their homes and basic necessities while struggling to reconnect power and attain aid.
Saipan – Wind and rain pounded the island throughout the night of August 2 and into the early morning hours of August 3rd last year.
On the site where aid was distributed, community leaders and government officials alongside residents celebrating recovery and recognizing the work that still needs to be done in this morning’s sunrise vigil.
Jenny Hegland of the Commonwealth Advocates for Recovery Efforts, a group that assisted in the immediate aftermath, addressed the crowd in tears overwhelmed by the show of support.
Hegland said, “Because of Soudelor I have really seen the heart of this community and the hearts of the people in this community. The strength and resiliency I have seen is why I have come to call this my home and why I love Saipan.”
Rain poured down throughout the ceremony, some describing it as a blessing, as they exchanged stories of the typhoon’s aftermath, expressing their gratitude for all those who helped.
Stephen DeBlasio, the Federal Emergency Management Agency;s Coordinating office for Typhoon Soudelor, reaffirmed the agency’s commitment to the islands full recovery. He said, “Public assistance,individual assistance, and mitigation programs are still very active and will continue to be so until we collaboratively complete the long term recovery work that stands before us.”