As of Monday, September 17, 2018, a total of 293 people (55 families) from across the island, have been using the Astumbo Gym in Dededo as a temporary shelter. The families were displaced due to the impacts from Typhoon Mangkhut.
Emergency response personnel continue to work to get the island back to normal, including helping residents return to their homes.
Dededo Mayor Melissa Savares and her team has been instrumental in overseeing shelter operations at the Astumbo Gym. Maximum typhoon force winds were mostly felt in the northern part of the island leaving many homes in Yigo and Dededo severely impacted, some completely destroyed.
Mayor Savares’ office personnel and the Mayors Council of Guam continue to work with the community, using any resources available to help displaced families. The Governor’s Office, Office of Civil Defense, Guam Housing Corporation, Guam Housing Urban Renewal Authority, and Guam Department of Education, are working with the Mayors Council of Guam to see what kind of challenges they face and come up with viable solutions.
Reaching out to Partners, Locally
The American Red Cross (ARC) Guam Chapter has worked alongside the shelter operations, meeting with all the families sheltered at the Astumbo Gym. ARC Guam Chapter has augmented ARC response teams from the continental United States and established a Disaster Assistance Operations Headquarters on Guam. ARC is providing detailed recovery planning assistance to each family, by providing needed emergency supplies, including cots for those in the shelter, identifying other unmet needs of each family and working with government and other mission partners. ARC caseworkers will continue to return to the shelter until each family has a recovery plan in place. Additionally, ARC continues to conduct casework outreach to other Guam residents needing assistance, who are not staying in the shelter, as they are identified by the Mayor’s Offices and Guam Homeland Security/Office of Civil Defense.
Equally as important, the Salvation Army, Guam Corps have begun recovery operations as early as Wednesday, September 12, by providing water to those in need and began accepting donations of food, diapers, and hygiene items to assist those seeking assistance. The Salvation Army Guam Family Services office prepared 50 food bags using items from their client choice program to assist those who lost perishable food due to loss of power. Some families were even given vouchers for clothing and furniture from the Salvation Army Thrift Store. The Salvation Army continues to accept any donations. To help, call or text 988-3333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other organizations continue to reach out with their support, such as the Bank of Guam and Pika’s Cafe, who provided hot meals for those staying in the shelter, and many families and friends who continue to support the shelterees and those extremely affected. The Bank of Hawaii has initiated an emergency financial assistance program to help those affected. For more information, call Bank of Hawaii’s Customer Service Center on Oahu at 1-888-643-3888.
Many other reputable businesses continue to help with recovery efforts.
Recovery Begins at a Local Level, First
Until such time a Presidential Disaster Declaration has been announced for Guam, federal assistance will not be available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Damage assessments are currently underway to determine if Guam meets the threshold for federal assistance, if any at all.
- Residents whose homes have been severely damaged from Typhoon Mangkhut and need immediate shelter can report to the Astumbo Gym Tier II shelter in Dededo.
- Those whose homes have incurred some damage, but are safe to reside in are encouraged to document any damages by taking pictures, before beginning to repair it on your own.
- Do not wait for federal assistance. If you are able to safely clean or repair your home, do so after pictures are taken and damages are recorded.
- If you require additional assistance at a local level, contact your respective village mayor’s offices, who can assist by working with the Guam Homeland Security/Office of Civil Defense Emergency Operations Center to request for support from private and non-profit organizations such as the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army, as well as reach out to volunteers in the Guam Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster.
- It is important to remember that federal assistance, although it can be requested, may not always be awarded.
As part of continued recovery efforts, Governor Eddie Baza Calvo has entrusted Chris Duenas, Guam Housing Corporation (GHC) President, and his team, to help transition the 55 displaced families from their current temporary shelter to permanent housing.
A number of eligible families seeking shelter at Astumbo Gym may be given vouchers from the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority for priority housing placement. Families that have the ability to pay rent may be placed in the Guam Housing Corporation’s low-cost housing. Families that do not qualify for GHURA or Guam Housing programs will also be assessed for placement in a temporary housing program until a long-term solution is available for them.
Each family situation will be assessed. No family will be left behind.
In line with long-term housing initiatives, Guam plans to request for a Technical Assistance Program (TAP) grant through the Office of Insular Affairs, which provides federal funding for short-term projects intended to meet the immediate needs of the insular areas. For Guam, that may result in proper transitional housing placement. This initiative was in motion before Typhoon Mangkhut and will be expedited due to the emergent situation.
Helping those under the Compacts of Free Association (COFA)
If federal assistance does become available, displaced families who fall under COFA will be ineligible for federal assistance from FEMA. This was an issue the Governor raised to visiting Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Affairs Douglas Domenech. The Governor will be following up on his letters to DOI Secretary Zinke and FSM President Peter Christian.
During a conversation Governor Calvo had with Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence on September 14, 2018, Governor Calvo expressed his concern for those Compacts of Free Association (COFA) migrants. During the conversation, Governor Calvo requested assistance for any relief the administration may be able to provide to help COFA migrants. Although they are legal migrants residing in Guam, they do not qualify for FEMA assistance, if any is granted. Governor Calvo and his administration continue to work solutions to provide assistance for COFA migrants impacted by Typhoon Mangkhut.
For more information, contact the Joint Information Center at (671) 478-0208.