Two years since the devastation of Typhoon Soudelor, parts of Saipan is still working on getting back to its feet, with some still waiting for repairs to their homes.
However, much has been done to restore the island. In remembrance of the damage brought by the typhoon, a proclamation was signed yesterday by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres to commemorate how resilient the island is, how far it has come, and how the community came together during the recovery process.
Typhoon Soudelor left over 700 individuals homeless, many individuals lost their belongings, and many homes were left damaged and unfit for human inhabitation. Fortunately, no lives were lost.
To aid Saipan’s recovery, the Commonwealth Advocates for Recovery Effort was established solely to aid in the rebuilding and renovating of the many homes damaged by Soudelor. CARE was determined to not only rebuild homes, but to ensure that the homes are resilient to other possible threats.
Yesterday’s proclamation signing also honored the recovery efforts led by CARE and its many volunteers. The signing was held at a house in Koblerville that the group recently rebuilt from the ground up.
Although there are still 177 individuals that are awaiting assistance in rebuilding their homes, the community should take a step back and reap the fruits of two years of labor, the proclamation stated.
Torres thanked the many individuals and agencies who sprung into action after Soudelor devastated the island.
According to Federal Emergency Management Agency emergency management specialist Nahru Harper, she first witnessed the disaster in slideshows and videos. However, upon coming to the island, Harper realized that there was more to the slides and the videos.
According to Harper, it was a blessing to be given the opportunity to come to the island and personally meet people who were devastated by the typhoon. Harper also mentioned how great it was to see how much FEMA had been a part of such a huge recovery.
“Even to be able to come later and see the work that has been done two years ago is very much a blessing…we watched the films, now we know we’re doing good works out here…” said Harper. “It isn’t about the money, it’s about the people.”
A memory that stood out for CARE director Jenny Hegland was how devastated and shocked she felt to see the damage done to the island after the typhoon.
Hegland feels she owes a lot to social media, which she credits with playing a big role in getting individuals and agencies involved in the recovery phase of the island and it also got her to be a part of the mission.
According to Hegland, despite being a part of many different projects, she is proudest with her involvement in the long-term recovery of Saipan.
“I have been involved in a lot of things in my life that I am proud of, but I have never been as proud of anything as I am the work that we have done here to help families…,” she said.
Many other individuals shared that Soudelor brought the entire community together to help one another and that is the most important take away from the disaster.