CNMI Cost-Share Of Typhoon Relief Down From 25% To 10%
Obama authorizes FEMA to cut usual cost-share amount
SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Aug. 26, 2015) – President Barack Obama has approved a lower cost-share for the CNMI government as recovery and relief efforts continue in the aftermath of Typhoon Soudelor.
Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) said the President signed Tuesday the decision to lower the cost-share to 10 percent, from the original 25 percent.
“We need all the good news we can get right now. The President’s decision to have the federal government cover 90 percent of the recovery cost is certainly good news,” Sablan said.
He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency makes the recommendation to the President to adjust the local share when costs go above $136 per person.
“With 53,000 people in the Northern Marianas, that threshold was $7.2 million,” he said.
“FEMA informed the congressional office in Washington today that obligations had already reached $14.7 million,” Sablan said, adding that “so we knew that adjustment would be under consideration, and we let the White House know that we definitely supported lowering the amount the Northern Marianas would have to pay.”
The reduction covers three categories of assistance: public assistance (immediate emergency needs, and rebuilding and replacing infrastructure), hazard mitigation (fortifying against future storms), and other needs assistance (furniture and personal belongings and some uninsured medical expenses).
A statement from Gov. Eloy S. Inos said President Obama’s decision to amend Executive Order 12148 to increase the federal share for FEMA assistance from 75 percent to 90 percent of total eligible costs came in response to “numerous discussions between Inos and federal agencies.”
Inos said the letter from the President quoted W. Craig Fugate, the administrator of FEMA, stating that, “…the damage in certain areas of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands resulting from Typhoon Soudelor… is of sufficient severity and magnitude that special cost sharing arrangements are warranted regarding federal funds.”
“Therefore I amend my declaration of Aug. 5, 2015, to authorize federal funds for all categories of Public Assistance, Hazard Mitigation, and Other Needs Assistance under Section 408 of the Stafford Act at 90 percent of total eligible costs.”
Inos thanked Obama for the decision.
“The damage caused by Typhoon Soudelor was extensive and affected the lives of all of us. The true extent and the human toll of this natural disaster increases every day as more and more long-term recovery work gets underway. On behalf of the people of the CNMI, I extend my sincere appreciation to our President who recognized the dire needs expressed in our discussions, and allowed for more federal dollars to assist in rebuilding and recovery of our islands,” Inos said.
Sablan, meanwhile, said of the $14.7 million obligated to date, FEMA told him that $8.4 million has gone to help individuals and households, and $6.25 million has been used for debris removal, food, water, shelter, and other emergency needs.
Only $50,000 has so far been used for rebuilding infrastructure.
FEMA also reported that 7,212 people have now applied for assistance and that FEMA has completed inspections of 1,293 properties that were damaged by Typhoon Soudelor.
“We still have a long road to recovery. But without this federal assistance we would be in much worse shape,” Sablan said.