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  • By Pacific island Times News Staff

CNMI to get additional post-typhoon aid from feds

The CNMI stands to receive more disaster funding for typhoon relief and recovery following President Donald J. Trump’s approval of the Commonwealth’s request for additional post-Yutu assistance for the CNMI as a result of the impacts of Super Typhoon Yutu.

Gov. Ralph Torres said additional assistance includes a higher federal cost share for public assistance, hazard mitigation, and the other needs assistance at 90 percent and funds for debris removal and emergency protective measures at 100 percent for 180 days from the start of the incident.

Torres met with FEMA deputy administrator Peter T. Gaynor last week while in Washington, D.C. for the National Governors Association Winter Meeting, Section 902 Consultations, and committee hearings with the US Senate and House of Representatives.

“Our islands took a major hit economically and financially, so this additional federal assistance will go a long way in building a more resilient community and a stronger foundation as we rebuild our economy and infrastructure,” Torres said.

Acting Gov. Arnold I. Palacios noted the additional assistance allows for the CNMI to strengthen its financial condition following the storm.

“This is welcome news, and the increased federal cost share will help us stabilize our local finances that took a major hit the last few months. This means more federal assistance for disaster relief, increased technical assistance, additional infrastructure resiliency, and additional financial help for qualified residents. Over the course of the last few months, we have made great progress in strengthening our utilities and critical infrastructure, while also providing relief goods to residents. Our next steps include our permanent housing mission, which will build new and stronger homes for qualified residents, and reenergizing our economy with our private sector and tourism partners,” the Acting Governor added.

Under the President’s major disaster declaration issued for the CNMI on Oct. 26, 2018, Federal funding was made available for Public Assistance, Hazard Mitigation, and Other Needs Assistance at 75 percent Federal funding of total eligible costs. For a period of 30 days, assistance for emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, was authorized at 100 percent of the total eligible costs. Under the President's order today, federal funds for all categories of Public Assistance, Hazard Mitigation, and the Other Needs Assistance are authorized at 90 percent of total eligible costs and Federal funds for debris removal and emergency protective measures are authorized at 100 percent through the end of April.

The governor’s representative Virginia Villagomez expressed the collaborative approach undertaken by the CNMI and FEMA during this recovery period.

“The partnership between the CNMI and FEMA, along with our other federal partners, has been instrumental in not only the speed of our recovery, but also for the approval of our request for additional federal assistance. Under Governor Torres and Lt. Governor Palacios, we are on the right track at not only building new homes and stronger infrastructure, but we are also on our way toward stabilizing our government finances,” she added.

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