President Calls for Emergency Meeting in Response to State of Emergency Declarations
Palikir, POHNPEI (FSM Information Services): December 23, 2008 - President Mori called together a Task Force this morning to discuss the National Government's response to the State of Emergency declaration of Pohnpei State and the impending declarations from the states of Chuuk, Yap, and Kosrae. All four states suffered severe damage from the recent tidal surges caused by two circulation weather systems and high tides caused by the perigee of the moon during the week of December 8th through the 12th. Other Pacific countries affected by this Pacific tidal surge were Solomon Islands, PNG, Kiribati, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The Task Force consisted of Mr. Andrew Yatilman, Director of the Office of Environment and Emergency Management (EEM), Ms. Oleen Paul, Hazard Mitigation Officer with EEM, members of the Department of Justice, and Secretaries from the Departments of Resources and Development and Transportation, Communication and Infrastructure. The President also invited members of Congress to join the meeting and Senators Moses Nelson and Peter Sitan were present and confirmed the seriousness of the damage in Chuuk State and agreed with a need for a declaration of a State of Emergency.
As reports come in from the low lying outer islands, mostly by shortwave radios, the Office of EEM is getting a better picture of the state of emergency. They referenced a video shot in Kosrae that showed the actual event happening, with waves crashing on the island and photos from the outer islands of Chuuk and Yap showing the intrusion of saltwater into taro patches and agriculture crops. President Mori was on the MS Voyager for his official State Visit to the Northwest Islands of Chuuk during this time and was witness to the large tides and surges on the reefs and islands. Although he was not briefed on the reasons for the occurrence, he took pictures to document the force of the tides and the damages caused by them.
Once all the states have declared a State of Emergency, President Mori can declare a National State of Emergency and react with immediate relief and assessment efforts. Food and fresh water are the immediate needs of the people of the outer islands in Chuuk, Yap and Pohnpei. Airplanes and ships will be sent to these islands to provide this relief and assessment teams will carry out inspections to assess the effects of the tidal surges and make plans for further recovery needs.
Pohnpei State has already provided for fuel and provisions for the MS Voyager to make an emergency run to the Southern Islands of Pohnpei, namely Sapwuahfik, Nukuoro, and Kapingamarangi and bring relief supplies on January 5th, 2009. The Task Force, led by Director Yatilman of EEM, is meeting later today to plan relief and assessment efforts in all of the States, and FEMA, the US Federal Emergency Management Association, is expected to also play a part in these relief efforts.
Once President Mori declares a State of Emergency for the nation, he is given the authority to pool the resources of the national government and allocate them as he deems necessary to address the threats posed to the people. In a second meeting today, the President received an update from the Finance Department on the status of revenue available and unappropriated in the General Fund that can be used to help support the relief and administrative costs, which are estimated to be in the millions of dollars. President Mori will be meeting with our Development Partners over the next few days to inform them of the situation and ask for assistance in relief efforts.
For further information on this release, please contact:
FSM Office of the President Public Information: Press, Radio, Video P.O Box 34 Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941 Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092 Fax.: (691) 320-4356 e-mail: email@example.com http://www.fsmpio.fm/