Family of 24 still hasn't been able to return home after storm
by Krystal Paco
Guam - Last week's tropical storm conditions from nearby Typhoon Francisco forced dozens of families to seek shelter at the island's public schools. But even after conditions have cleared, one family has yet to return home.
When the all-clear was given Friday afternoon and residents who turned to George Washington High School for shelter were told to go home, one Mangilao family couldn't. Living in a tin shack with a canopy for a roof, this family turned to their village mayor. "On Friday they said they don't want to go there because it's muddy. So I said, 'It's okay, you can stay here,'" recalled Mangilao mayor Nito Blas.
The mayor has his concerns - through the weekend the family stayed at his village's community center. But with business back to usual today, he noticed the kids weren't at school and the family of 24 still living out of the community center's kitchen. "They have to have a place because they cannot stay here permanently. Somebody has to help these people. I'm worried about those kids. Several kids in there they don't go to school," he said.
But Blas can't exactly kick the family out of the community center, especially since he's aware of their current living arrangements on Juan Muna Street. With no running water or electricity, Blas is concerned the family may be squatting on private property. "If they show me an authorization from the owner, then they can go there and stay. I just don't want to be accused of sending people to somebody else's property without authorization," he said.
Until then, Blas has been reaching out to different organizations for help, including the American Red Cross, Catholic Social Services, and Homeland Security. American Red Cross emergency service director Dave Peredo says although the non-profit can provide temporary relief, the family is in need of long-term help.
Peredo has since referred Blas to the Governor's Office to check with GHURA.
As of this afternoon, the family returned home with assurances from Blas that he'll lend them a new canopy for shelter.