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Red Cross faces big challenge on Tinian

THE  lack of facilities on Tinian poses a big challenge to typhoon relief efforts on island, American Red Cross-NMI chapter executive director John Hirsh said.

With only few stores and no hotel, “it was a difficult environment,” he added.

However, he said, the Red Cross continues to provide 2,000 meals a day to the community in collaboration with the private and public sectors.

Many non-profit organizations have also stepped up to provide assistance, he added.

McDonald’s on Guam, for instance, provided meals on Tinian shortly after Typhoon Yutu hit the island, he said.

On Saipan, Hirsh told Rotary Club members during their weekly meeting at the Giovanni’s Restaurant of the Hyatt Regency that the Red Cross has been conducting damage assessment for the last three weeks.

John Hirsh, executive director of American Red Cross-NMI chapter, talks about the progress of the disaster recovery assistance program with the Rotary Club of Saipan at Giovanni’s Restaurant of Hyatt Regency Saipan on Tuesday. Photo by Junhan B. TodiñoJohn Hirsh, executive director of American Red Cross-NMI chapter, talks about the progress of the disaster recovery assistance program with the Rotary Club of Saipan at Giovanni’s Restaurant of Hyatt Regency Saipan on Tuesday. Photo by Junhan B. Todiño

“It’s going to take months and months to get back on our feet again,” he said.

Hirsh said they are using their smartphones with geo-location application to  determine the location of damaged houses.

Before providing typhoon victims with financial assistance and other support, he said, “We go to a meticulous process to validate that indeed that it is their home.”

Each person whose house was totally damaged will get $150, he said, adding that financial aid is only given to people who can no longer remain in their damaged homes.

Households with broken window and water damage cannot qualify for financial assistance, Hirsh said. But the Red Cross will provide them with cleanup kits and other household items.

Hirsh said they want to help build sustainable housing that can withstand storms. The Red Cross also wants “to get people back to their villages in a transient housing where they can stay for the next six months while a new structure is being built.”

He said these are big decisions that the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the CNMI government have to make.

Hirsh said they are hoping that FEMA will come up with island-centric and culturally sensitive solutions.

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/108892-red-cross-faces-big-challenge-on-tinian

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