September 21, 2018
Hagåtña – Governor Eddie Baza Calvo today sent a letter to President Donald Trump, requesting for a Major Disaster Declaration, which may provide a wide range of federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure.
If granted, the federal aid would supplement local recovery efforts throughout the island in response to the destruction from Typhoon Mangkhut.
“Joint preliminary damage assessments wrapping up this week provided the necessary information to submit this request,” stated Governor Calvo. “Guam has come a long way to rebuild from devastating events like Paka and Pongsona and it shows in the hardening of our critical infrastructure and homes. However, I have seen the reports and seen first-hand the destruction Mangkhut bore down on our island and our people need help.”
Guam Homeland Security/Office of Civil Defense and local agencies have been working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assess the damage to homes, businesses and government buildings and infrastructure.
It was important that all of the assessments and documentation be provided per the federal process to ensure Guam doesn’t end up being denied or required to repay federal dollars. Following Typhoon Pongsona and Typhoon Chata’an in 2002, there were repayments in cash and/or allocations reduced with respect to FEMA. Additionally, there was a Single Audit in FY2004 of federal grants that pointed out $12.5 million of questioned costs related to FEMA assistance.
Typhoon Mangkhut Recovery
On September 10, 2018, Typhoon Mangkhut slammed into the Marianas, just north of Guam. It damaged or destroyed homes, particularly those in northern Guam, and damaged the island’s power distribution infrastructure, disrupted water distribution, caused crop loss for farmers, and more.
President Trump has the authority to declare a major disaster for any natural event that the President determines has caused damage of such severity that it is beyond the combined capabilities of state and local governments to respond. A major disaster declaration provides a wide range of federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including funds for both emergency and permanent work.
Governor Calvo has 30 days from the occurrence of the incident to submit a request for a major disaster declaration. The request confirms that the local government has taken appropriate action in implementing the island’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan. It also includes:
- an estimate of the amount and severity of damage to the public and private sector
- a description of the local government’s efforts and resources utilized to alleviate the disaster
- preliminary estimates of the type and amount of Stafford Act assistance needed
- certification by the Governor that the local government will comply with all applicable cost sharing requirements.
Assistance available under major disaster declarations include:
- Individual assistance – Assistance to individuals and households
- Public Assistance – Assistance to local government and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities
FEMA has been and continues to be instrumental in the process of conducting preliminary damage assessments and continues to provide guidance in the process of the Major Disaster Declaration request.
The request does not put a hold on local recovery efforts. Recovery starts at a local level. The situations for residents that are displaced or have been heavily impacted by Typhoon Mangkhut are being assessed by respective village mayors. Those residents are being assisted using Guam’s local resources.
The Offices of Guam Homeland Security and Civil Defense continue to coordinate shelter operations. The Office of the Governor, with the assistance of Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority, Mayors Council of Guam, Department of Public Health & Social Services, Department of Public Works, Department of Education, and the Guam Housing Corporation will continue working with families who need help with their homes.