CARE’s Role in Long-term Recovery Following Typhoon Yutu

On October 24, 2018 Super Typhoon Yutu, the strongest storm to hit anywhere in the U.S. since 1935, hit the Northern Mariana Islands, significantly devastating public infrastructure, businesses and homes on the islands of Tinian and Saipan. Super Typhoon Yutu brought with it 180 mph sustained wind speeds, and recorded wind gusts of 225 mph. This marks the third federally-declared disaster to significantly impact the Marianas in 3 years (Soudelor in 2015, Mangkhut and Yutu in 2018). The initial damage assessments conducted by the American Red Cross after Yutu indicate 3,718 homes on the islands of Tinian and Saipan have been damaged, with 3,107 of these being totally destroyed or majorly damaged homes. Based on these damage assessments, we can estimate at least 12,400 people are currently displaced/not able to live in their homes, which is approximately 25% of the entire population on both islands. It is anticipated full water and power restoration across both islands will not be completed until at least March 2019.

While Super Typhoon Yutu has caused devastation across our islands, the community has already started on the road to recovery. The loss our community has endured will require significant time, planning, and resources to rebuild. Just as the CARE network activated large-scale operations and partnerships to support the long-term recovery after Typhoon Soudelor in 2015, CARE and our partners have committed to leading the long-term recovery efforts to support individuals and families post Super Typhoon Yutu. The CARE network will serve as a bridge between the government, education, business, faith-based, and nonprofit sectors both locally and nationally to help promote and keep a community-wide vision of resiliency at the forefront of long-term recovery efforts.

Before the community can move into long-term recovery, however, we must first continue to deal with initial response needs, where local government, federal partners, and voluntary agencies work in coordination to provide mass care and access to life-sustaining essentials, including water, food, shelter, and medical care, as well as focus on restoration of critical public utilities and ensuring our major roadways are safe and clear from dangerous debris. This work is expected to last through November 2018. As we progress from immediate response into short-term recovery, our community will be able to focus more resources on debris removal within villages (which will realistically last through at least February 2019), as well as on short-term housing solutions for residents who are displaced. All of this work must happen before addressing long-term unmet needs, such as permanently rebuilding homes.

While essential immediate response efforts are still underway, CARE must raise funds, acquire the necessary human and physical resources, and re-engage critical local and national partners to support long-term recovery. The CARE board of directors and volunteers are building their capacity to re-activate and will do so strategically in a way that best aligns with other federal and local resources and programs that will be made available to the community. CARE’s support for families will once again be driven by a robust case management program, which is in the planning phases now and expected to begin by early 2019. The case management process will also refer families to immediate or other resources that may be available to them before CARE support.

To this end, CARE encourages families to maximize the use of federal aid including FEMA Individual Assistance programs that will be activated to support recovery, such as temporary and long-term housing support, so that we do not risk providing a duplication of benefits. Impacted community members are encouraged to register for federal assistance as soon as possible to determine your eligibility for aid.   

CARE’s vision is that together we will build a united Commonwealth where all our neighbors are lifted from disaster through the strength of our network. We will continue to update the community as we move into the short and longer-term phases of recovery work post Super Typhoon Yutu.