Governor to request disaster declaration

TEAM PLAN: Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero plans to request a declaration of a major disaster for Guam. In this photo, she's speaking at a press conference where her administration introduced the Temporary Economic Assistance and Mitigation Guam Plan to help Guam's economy during the downturn due to the COVID-19 outbreak, March 9 in Tamuning. With the governor is Department of Revenue and Taxation Director Dafne Shimizu. Post file photo

The governor plans to request a major disaster declaration for Guam, according to a letter responding to Delegate Michael San Nicolas.

"In the coming days, given the precedence set in New York, I will be requesting for a Major Disaster Declaration for Guam," she stated. "This is only the first step to accessing the Individual Assistance Programs such as the Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program as this will require additional justification that the government surely has toward assisting our people."

San Nicolas wrote to the governor urging her to make the request, saying such a status would "unlock" special Federal Emergency Management Agency and Small Business Administration aid.

"FEMA has a disaster unemployment assistance program that can provide resources to our people who have lost their jobs due to this crisis," San Nicolas wrote. "The SBA has disaster financing programs that can help businesses stay open to prevent more people from losing their jobs. ... Both of these disaster programs need the governor to initiate a disaster declaration for Guam so that the process can begin for subsequent federal recognition."

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See the letter from the governor responding to Guam's Delegate to Washington D.C.:

Dear Congressman San Nicolas,

Thank you for your letter regarding the impact of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-l9) on Guam’s economy and the available federal programs the government and people of Guam will have access to as it relates to the process to declare Guam a major disaster area under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act as well as the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program under the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). My Administration has already been tracking and working on these disaster related requests.

As you might be aware, as of March 13, 2020, an Emergency Declaration was declared for an incident period beginning January 20, 2020 and continuing. My Administration has been monitoring the request for a Major Disaster Declaration made by Governor Andrew Cuomo of the State of New York to President Donald J. Trump. Governor Cuomo’s request was recently approved which sets a major precedence for a Major Disaster Declaration being approved for a health-related emergency, something that has not been approved in the past.

Although such path has been paved with this recent approval for the State of New York, my Administration has already been working with our federal counterparts at the US. Department of Labor (DOL) in anticipation of such a reality. In the coming days, given the precedence set in New York, I will be requesting for a Major Disaster Declaration for Guam. This is only the first step to accessing the Individual Assistance Programs such as the Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program as this will require additional justification that the government surely has toward assisting our people.

Additionally, the EIDL Declaration request was already sent to the U.S. SBA on March 17, 2020 and we are working with our federal partners directly with the U.S. SBA and will soon get such approval in the coming days for our people to access the available opportunities under the EIDL Program.

As we continue to monitor the federal actions undertaken by the major players in Washington, I have continued to work at the executive level through the National Governors Association and our direct executive-level federal partners to ensure the territories, including Guam, are included in the third COVID-l9-related stimulus package. I urge you to continue your part in Congress in ensuring the same.

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