26 Aug 2004

Chronic lack of accommodation for people made homeless by typhoon

2:47 pm on 26 August 2004

People in the Northern Mariana Islands, made homeless by Typhoon Chaba, earlier in the week, have a long wait before they can be re-housed permanently.

Initial Red Cross assessments are that on Saipan and Rota, 800 homes have had major damage and 325 are completely destroyed.

The director of Red Cross in the northern Marianas, John Hirsch, says there are a thousand people being accommodated in ten schools across Saipan.

John Hirsch says he is very concerned about where they will go long-term.

"Most communities haven't really adequately prepared for that, or identified buildings that are suitable to have people that perhaps might be living for two or three months. So we're working closely with our emergency management office and also our public housing authority here to perhaps identify apartment units or homes that could be used for those people who really have had devastating losses."

John Hirsch says officials are trying to amalgamate the resources of the ten shelter schools into two, so that most children can begin classes again on Monday.