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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Palau Authorities To Rebuild 30 Houses After Typhoon
200 structures reportedly destroyed in wake of Bopha

By Aurea Gerundio-Dizon

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, Dec. 13, 2012) – In Palau, the Bopha Catastrophe Relief Committee headed by Dr. Patrick Tellei has begun the process of rebuilding houses in three states in Babeldaob and two states in the southwest.

Dr. Tellei yesterday disclosed that, initially, a total of 30 houses will be built in five states that were determined to have extensive damages. Ten houses will be built in Ngaraard and five each in Ngiwal, Melekeok, Peleliu and Angaur.

Tellei said there is already more than enough relief materials such as food, clothing and other basic stuff for those affected by the typhoon. So the goal of the committee this time is to begin rebuilding houses.

Tellei said the committee has been negotiating with contractors on island for the construction of houses. The committee has already prepared the designs of the houses.

Yesterday, the committee met with governors of the states where the 30 houses will be built to find out whether or not there will be land ownership issues. Tellei said those without land ownership problem will be prioritized.

Tellei disclosed that of the almost 200 structures destroyed by typhoon Bopha, some 120 were determined to be primary homes (main residences).

Residents of those houses severely destroyed by the typhoon are still staying in temporary shelters as of present.

Five remained to be temporary shelters, from the original 45 shelters that were opened before the onslaught of typhoon Bopha. These are in: Ngiwal Elementary School, Bai era Tuich, Bai era Ulimang, Bai era Ngkeklau (all in Ngaraard) and Bai era Ngerubesang in Melekeok.

Tellei said there are few individuals sheltered in private homes.

Tellei anticipates that construction of additional houses will continue when the new administration takes office in January 2013.

Meanwhile, Tellei said that contract to repair damages to Ngaraard Elementary School was issued on Wednesday and work is expected to be completed within 30 days.

With regards to power, the main power lines in Koror, Airai and Babeldaob are already restored.

In Peleliu, the power plant is operational but distribution still needs work as many wires remain under fallen branches, trees and other debris.

Tellei said a full crew comprising of personnel from the Palau Public Utilities Corporation, Public Works, Civic Action Team and local people have been working since Friday in Peleliu to free up the lines. Fortunately, Tellei added, there was no damage to the power plant and power should be restored soon.

Tellei disclosed that Angaur’s power has been restored, too. With its power lines underground, the southern state suffered minor damage to its electrical infrastructure.

With regards to water, it is now available in all states. However, the committee encourages everyone to exercise conservation measures and rationing as tanks need to be filled, particularly those serving more populated areas like Koror and Airai.

Additionally, residents in Babeldaob are urged to boil water before drinking as tests done by the Environmental Quality Protection Board on December 11 showed that most public water systems in Babeldaob, including Ngerulmud, have high turbidity levels and some are contaminated with coliform bacteria. This means that the water is not safe for consumption unless boiled for at least one minute from boiling point.

EQPB said the water boiling notice continues until further notice. The EQPB office at the Public Works compound has had its roof repaired and is back to normal operations.

As to the phone connections, land line infrastructure to Ngiwal and Melekeok were reportedly damaged heavily and remain under rehabilitation. PNCC reported to the disaster relief committee work is being done to restore full land line capacity within the next few days.

Today, at 1:30 p.m., the Bureau of Agriculture, the Palau Visitors Authority, the Bureau of Marine Resources, the Palau International Coral Reef Center and state governors will meet at the former OEK building in Koror to provide their assessment of farms, food security, long term mitigation of damaged crops, farms, taro patches, impact of the typhoon on the tourism industry, the fisheries sector, status of reefs and repairs to the states, respectively.

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