September 13, 2018
Hagåtña – Governor Eddie Baza Calvo transmitted a letter to President Donald Trump, highlighting his intention to request for a Major Disaster Declaration for Guam, which may provide a wide range of federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including funds for both emergency and permanent work.
Preliminary damage assessments (PDA) on the damages incurred from Typhoon Mangkhut are currently underway. Various government of Guam agencies are working to gather information regarding what damages their agency faced during and after the storm, and what their shortfalls are now as a result of the storm.
The PDAs from all agencies would serve as supporting documents for when Governor Calvo does submit the request for a Major Disaster Declaration. This is estimated to be in about two weeks or less. Joint assessments will be completed with Guam Homeland Security/Office of Civil Defense, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), going around to villages where major damages were incurred, beginning September 18, for about two weeks.
Once requested, and if granted, the federal aid would supplement territory and local recovery efforts throughout the island in response to the damages from Typhoon Mangkhut.
“I am committed to returning our island to normalcy. I am also committed to working with federal partner agencies, to see where additional aid is available,” stated Governor Calvo. “We know that recovery starts at the local level. Our people have done all they can to get back on their feet. Although Guam is and has been extremely resilient, it is now time to reach out for assistance, in whatever form that is,” Governor Calvo concluded.
On September 10, 2018, Guam was impacted by Typhoon Mangkhut, incurring damages across the island including damages to residential homes, power distribution, water distribution, crop loss, and much more.
President Trump has the authority to declare a major disaster for any natural event that he 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 the authority to submit a request for a major disaster declaration within 30 days of the occurrence of the incident, which was September 10, 2018. The request is made based on the finding that the situation is beyond the capability of the island and the affected local governments and that supplemental federal emergency assistance is necessary.
As part of the letter’s requirements, Governor Calvo would need to be able to confirm that the local government has taken appropriate action in implementing the island’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, 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, and certification by the Governor that the local government will comply with all applicable cost sharing requirements.
All of these requirements must be fulfilled before the Governor can submit his official request for a Major Disaster Declaration for Guam.
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
It is important to note, this letter of intent is not the actual request for a Major Disaster Declaration; instead, it is a notification to the White House that assessments are being done and a formal request will follow. Equally important to note is once a formal request for a Major Disaster Declaration is made, it does not guarantee any federal assistance.
The Offices of Guam Homeland Security and Civil Defense continue to work closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in conducting Joint PDAs and gathering information to augment the case, to adhere to the Governor’s intent to request for a major disaster declaration.
The request does not put a hold on local recovery efforts. Recovery starts at a local level. Those residents that are displaced or have been heavily impacted by Typhoon Mangkhut are being assessed by respective village mayors and are still being assisted with Guam’s resources, being coordinated by the Emergency Operations Center. The Office of the Governor, through the Guam Housing Corp. and its President, Chris Duenas, will continue working with families who need help with their homes.