Letter to the Editor: Advance preparation vital when faced with natural disasters

For the past few weeks, television and internet news channels have been literally awash in images of the aftermath of deadly hurricane Harvey and its path of destruction throughout the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast. Although we are two years removed from Typhoon Maysak, rebuilding work still continues in the Outer Islands of Chuuk and Yap States to recover from its savage fury. These recent events underscore the need for advance preparedness well before the next storm strikes your island. The best preparation involves planning long before the next dangerous threat arises.
The first step involves getting supplies long before a storm and having them readily available when needed. Most people wait until the day before to buy supplies, and by then stores will usually quickly run out of the most important necessities. Take the time to buy needed supplies before the first typhoon watch issues. This simple step will save you much time, stress, and money in the future. Essential supplies include non-refrigerated and non-frozen food, bottled water, water containers, candles, matches, a kerosene stove, kerosene, a first aid kit, flashlights, batteries, and a backup generator, fuel. You should also invest in a DC-only powered telephone; a cell phone will not be of much use once its battery runs out and there is no way to charge it again. These items will help you tremendously and make like much more comfortable if your house loses power for an extended period of time.
While staying inside your home is usually recommended during most tropical storms, in the event of a powerful typhoon, this may not be your best or safest option. Many internet websites emphasize the importance of evacuation plans and routes to reach safe havens. It will prove critical to have this information on-hand well in advance, in case existing conditions require immediate action. Think now of where you will go if you have to relocate your family as the storm approaches. Know where your nearest “go to” shelter is in case you need to leave in a hurry to reach it. Print out an evacuation plan and an exit route and have them posted or kept handy at home. Remember, you may not be at your house or you may even be off-island when it happens. Also, the weather, limited bandwidth, or heavy online usage may significantly impair your ability to connect to the internet.
Finally, it is important to prepare and protect your personal property now before a storm strikes. Make copies of important documents and store them in a safe place. Back up your electronic data in at least two formats. Carefully examine the outside exterior of your home, looking for any existing damage. Strong winds and storm surge will increase the scope and extent of any pre-existing problems, resulting in major structural damage. Make sure all gates and doors are kept securely locked, to reduce the chances of strong winds ripping them from their hinges. Most importantly, talk now with your other family members and friends to ensure they and their homes are also prepared.
The FSM OEED, your State Disaster Coordinator’s Office, and the Micronesia Red Cross all have additional information and handouts on emergency and disaster preparedness which they will gladly share with you. Find their local office on your island and contact them now.
Each and every year carries the potential for severe storms due to our location in the Typhoon Belt of the Western Pacific. While we can never predict the next typhoon, getting ready in advance will help keep you and your loved ones ASAP (as safe as possible).
Plan now; act now. Later you will be very glad that you did.
Gary Bloom, Area Director,
Area III (FSM)
Office United States Department of Agriculture
Rural Development

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Letter to the Editor: Chief Justice speaks regarding impeachment-says he will resign

Dear Editor
In your last issue, you laid out the Articles of Impeachment that the Pohnpei Legislature recently adopted against me. I had decided not to respond to the articles of impeachment as I plan to resign from the position, effective August 28, 2017. Having said that, I am compelled to respond to the Kaselehlie Press to share my side of the story.
At the outset, I was never called by the Legislature to testify before the J&GO Committee even though I had, on a couple of occasions, personally and through my counsels, wrote to the Chairman and Speaker to allow me to testify so that the Committee is fully informed of the situation from both sides. Therefore, I think it is only fair that I respond to the articles in this medium. Thank you for allowing me the space.

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Letter to the Editor: Vice Principal’s parting words to Chuuk State School system

The intent of this letter is to issue my formal resignation of employment from the Chuuk State School System, effective June 19, 2017— But, my hope for this letter is that it ignites a passion amongst my Chuukese friends, both in Chuuk and outside of Chuuk, to stand up and fight for yourselves and your children to have access to a great education. I have been working in Chuuk since 2013, and for the last 2 years, I have been Vice Principal at Chuuk High School. I am not resigning because of my salary or because of the intense heat or because the slow internet. I am leaving because the Chuuk Department of Education is actively stopping the education of children.
The Department that is supposed to support schools is stripping schools of resources, corrupting the use of funds, “losing” paper work, and actively pushing out individuals who desire to see Chuukese children get an education.
I have watched the “reform” of Chuuk Education for 4 years now, and I can honestly say that education as a whole is worse now than it was 4 years ago. Millions upon millions of dollars have been dedicated to “fixing” the education system, but in reality, those dollars have mostly been used to buy favors for the “political elite” and Chuuk State Department of Education employees at the cost of Chuuk’s children. The idea that money is being misused is known by almost all Chuukese, but I am not sure that all Chuukese know the scale to which it is happening, and what it means for their children’s future. I want to be very clear that there is plenty of money available to fund an amazing education system in Chuuk (there is plenty of money for new schools, teachers’ raises, supplies, and training), but the truth is almost none of the money is actually spent in a real way to improve the system.
My experience as an administrator at Chuuk High School showed me that the root of the corruption, and the major factor opposing Chuuk’s children receiving a great education is the Chuuk Department of Education (CDOE) and the Chuuk State Board of Education. CDOE has not provided contractually obligated raises to teachers, but they give themselves raises. They are not fixing the toilets at elementary schools, but they are renovating their air conditioned offices. They are not providing real, applicable training for teachers and principals, but they take almost weekly trips to the other states. They will not approve funds for Chuuk High School to repair their school buses, but they buy themselves $25,000 cars, and give their previous government vehicles to their relatives. They will not provide proper funding for electricity to Chuuk High School, but they are never without power in their offices. They do not pay leave when it is properly submitted, but they take weeks off at a time with zero consequence. Most students do not have a chair to sit in, but the CDOE has brand new furniture. Schools are left without electricity, technology, or supplies of any kind, but the department has countless computers, printers, toner, ink, pens, paper and resources. The Chuuk State Board of Education, the group responsible for overseeing the CDOE is a travesty. Administrators, teachers, and myself have begged for their assistance, but they have done nothing. They are the largest disappointment and ultimately responsible for the terrible system.
They talk big, but never take action. By never taking action, they are collaborating with the easily visible corruption occurring. Several of the board members say they know about the corruption within the CDOE, but they do nothing. They know schools are not receiving necessary funding for supplies and needs, but they do nothing. They know that employees at the CDOE are depriving the children of an education, but they do nothing. For 2 years, I have fought for the education of your children. I have fought harder for them than I have ever fought for anything in my life, but I have learned I am unable to change the system as an outsider. I have learned that in order for Chuukese to get a great education, it is the Chuukese parents that must stand up and say it is time to end the corruption. It is time for you to tell the system to stop making excuses—make change.
I wish to end this letter by acknowledging the teachers, staff members, and Principal, Jason Reigon, of Chuuk High School. Chuuk High School is one of the only true beacons of hope for Chuuk Education, and I have had the pleasure of working with an amazing staff. The teachers, faculty, and administrators of Chuuk High School actually care about the children of Chuuk, and they try every day through whatever means available to help your children. To each of you, thank you for fighting every day for the children of Chuuk. I will miss all of you and pray for you daily to stay strong in the battles ahead.
Sincerely, Andrew Shelton Vice Principal, Chuuk High School

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