CNMI delegate criticises FEMA's Yutu response

2:50 pm on 3 December 2018

The Northern Marianas Delegate has criticised the US Federal Emergency Management Agency for problems that he says keep the agency from responding quickly to disasters such as October's Typhoon Yutu.

Typhoon Yutu damage

Damage from Typhoon Yutu Photo: Twitter/ @_ryreyes

At a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing, Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan took FEMA Administrator Brock Long to task on a list of complaints he received from the CNMI after the Yutu.

It includes the delayed opening of disaster recovery centres, the long wait for damage inspections, and the mailing error that meant many FEMA inspection notices and payments were not delivered.

Mr Sablan told Mr Long that he's not satisfied with the agency but also also acknowledged the work that the over 1,300 federal employees assigned to the CNMI were doing after the storm.

Mr Long emphasised that it was the responsibility of local governments to build capacity to withstand and recover from natural disasters by insuring public infrastructure with private insurers, by enforcing building and zoning codes and by establishing funds that they could draw on after a storm.

He said that FEMA has long stressed that the agency cannot be solely responsible for disasters.

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