Obama approves disaster support for FSM
The Federated States of Micronesia is entitled to US federal assistance after President Barack Obama signed a declaration acknowledging the damage caused by Cyclone Maysak last month.
The Federated States of Micronesia is entitled to US federal assistance after President Barack Obama last week signed a declaration acknowledging the damage caused by Cyclone Maysak last month.
FSM President Emmanuel Mori requested the assistance after assessments in the states of Chuuk and Yap showed the extent of the damage to be beyond the capability and resources of his country to deal with.
The Director of FSM's Emergency Management Office, Andrew Yatilman, told Koroi Hawkins the US assistance is a significant boost to ongoing relief efforts for both the short and long-term.
ANDREW YATILMAN: Talking with the government officials from Yap..those islands what they are doing right now is delivering relief supplies to those three affected islands and the National government has also been helping with the use of one of our patrol boats and the passenger cargo vessel which was, which just came back from Yap and is now in Chuuk.
KOROI HAWKINS: And the last time we spoke you talked about a letter being sent to the United States for the declaration of a state of emergency. Has that happened?
AY: Yes the letter was sent and on the 28th of this month, President Barack Obama signed a declaration declaring the disaster in both Chuuk and Yap.
KH: And what does that now mean again? So that has been signed are you seeing the effects of that already or will it take time before that filters down to actually arriving in Yap and Chuuk?
AY: Yes as of that signing April 28, President what he signed he authorised the Federal assistance to FSM in terms of relief and reconstruction funding. So right now USaid is the lead agency from the US government to coordinate US government assistance to the affected states. In contraction with the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA. So right now the US aid officials who are in Chuuk are now doing detailed assessment, you know, household assessment.
KH: And are there any emerging concerns or gaps in your relief effort at the moment that you need to address?
AY: Yeah well, right now what is very challenging for us is that Chuuk is one of our most populated states. In fact it is the most populated state. More than half of the population of FSM are from the state of Chuuk. And so it has been very challenging for us to go out and look at all the affected populations, you know right now we are assisting almost everybody. But we need to target people that need assistance the most especially those who are severely impacted but at the moment it is. We are just going ahead based on the recommendation from the Chuuk state task force. We are helping everybody but the gap is that we do not have the resources nationally or locally to be able to respond to their needs. But we have been fortunate that the Micronesian Red Cross society, the International Federation of the Red Cross, IOM, USaid and others have also been supplementing the efforts of the state and national governments in assisting these folks and other donors have also provided assistance but that is still a challenge for us in terms of meeting the needs of the affected people.
KH: And what particular supplies or needs or activities are you needing still needing assistance in and probably will need in the weeks ahead or months ahead?
AY: I think in the weeks ahead and months ahead, right now it will be mostly with food items and water and then in the months ahead. Much later will be reconstruction of you know people's dwellings and public infrastructures both in Chuuk and in Yap, the affected island communities.
KH: And how about the children and the schools are they back to normal now. Is all of that back to normal or are kids still out of school?
AY: Kids are still out of school in Chuuk, the last time I know was that the governor closed the schools system. And I am not sure that anything has changed at the moment I maybe wrong. But private schools in Chuuk have resumed at their private schools. But one of the islands that was severely affected, Unity they are closing down the high school and essentially moving the seniors to the main island Yap to try to have them finish up so that they can graduate this month. And freshmen, I mean sophomores and juniors were left on the island to be sent back home and I guess to continue next year.
Mr Yatilman's Office says 29,000 people have been affected by Cyclone Maysak, with 90 percent of food crops in Yap and Chuuk destroyed and 281 homes destroyed.
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