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Hundreds line up for USDA disaster assistance program

HUNDREDS of residents lined up for U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Disaster Nutrition Assistance Program and Supplemental Disaster Assistance at the NAP office in As Lito on Sunday.

According to Arts Council Executive Director Parker Yobei, more than 100 government employees volunteered to assist the applicants. He was  one of the volunteers.

The NAP office set up three lanes for people seeking DNAP or supplemental assistance, and for the elderly and people with disabilities.

According to Yobei, the processing of assistance started at 8 a.m. but many people had camped out as early as 10 p.m. Saturday night.

One of them was Carmelita Ajoste. “I was told by my son that many people were camping out. So I came here last night.”

People wait for their turn to be interviewed at the Nutrition Assistance Program office in As Lito on Sunday. Photo by Lori Lyn C. LirioPeople wait for their turn to be interviewed at the Nutrition Assistance Program office in As Lito on Sunday. Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

Ajoste, who sustained an injury during Typhoon Soudelor in 2015, said her knees hurt whenever she stands for a long period of time.  “But I have to be in line as early as possible. The benefits I may get will really help us.”

The Department of Community and Cultural Affairs said the program will be implemented from Nov. 25 to Dec. 1 at the NAP office from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Yobei said the NAP will accommodate 1,700 applicants each day, but on Sunday, they continued to give numbers to people, “for the following day’s schedule.”

Each person was interviewed for five to 10 minutes, he said. “It would make it easier and a lot faster for them if they bring all the documents needed.”

Jesus  Mendoza, U.S. Department of Agriculture regional administrator, said he and other USDA representatives were on Saipan to provide technical assistance.

Compared to Typhoon Soudelor disaster assistance, Mendoza said the processing this time “is faster.”

He added, “Because of the volume, it is definitely slow at the beginning, but it is moving a lot faster now.”

Mendoza said it also helps when translators are available during the interviews.

“The agency [DCCA-NAP] did a good job announcing the program. But the people have to be patient with the process. We are moving as fast as we can and eventually we are going to process all the applications.”

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/109062-hundreds-line-up-for-usda-disaster-assistance-program

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