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FEMA continuing preparedness, response efforts in Pacific

Clean Up Continues In American Samoa

PAGO PAGO, AMERICAN SAMOA - OCTOBER 03: People work to clear the rubble near the village of Nuan Seetaga following the 8.3 magnitude earthquake that struck Sept. 29, on October 3, 2009 in Pago Pago, American Samoa. The quake triggered a tsunami wave up to 1.5 metres across areas of the island. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

MEDIA RELEASE

The Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other federal partners remain engaged in preparedness efforts throughout the Pacific, following the earthquake and tsunami in Samoa last week.

FEMA and federal teams, through the Federal Coordinating Officer, continue to work closely with American Samoan Gov. Togiola Tulafono, as well as Delegate Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, to provide response in areas of American Samoa impacted by Tuesday’s tsunami. 

“In addition to our efforts in support of the Governor of American Samoa, we recognize the significant impact of current disasters in other Pacific regions, including Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “We are working closely with the Governor to meet his priorities as federal support continues to flow into American Samoa. As we continue to respond and recover in U.S. Territories, our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in harms way. These events remind us how important preparedness and teamwork are to saving lives and ultimately rebuilding communities.”

A team of more than 300 responders from FEMA, American Red Cross, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies are on the ground in American Samoa. 

These personnel comprise the immediate response force, including Incident Management Assessment Teams (IMAT), Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMAT), and Public Health Assistance Teams. Other personnel are assisting with community efforts.

The Coast Guard, National Guard, and United States Navy have provided critical transport of the life-saving and life-sustaining supplies and equipment to meet the immediate needs of the survivors, including more than 26,000 meals, 14,000 liters of water, 1,800 blankets, 800 tents, more than 800 cots, and nine pallets of medical supplies and medical equipment in support of the territory’s mass care operations. 

Several generators have been deployed, with more on the way. These generators will supply communities and critical infrastructure with power. 

In accordance with the governor’s priority recovery efforts, debris removal planning is also underway and recovery specialists, including a housing planning team, are being identified and assembled 

As residents begin to return to their homes, FEMA cautions them to be safe. FEMA cautions all persons on the island to be aware of potential hazards and advises that residents continue to follow guidance of local officials in clearing debris. 

FEMA continues to coordinate with our federal partners, providing the following support to the region. Additional information on response and recovery efforts can be found below: 

American Red Cross (ARC): ARC has conducted a preliminary disaster assessment and reports extensive destruction west of Leone, City of Pago Pago and the eastern most portion of the island. ARC continues to deploy volunteers on the ground in American Samoa providing food and supplies in affected areas; deploying additional equipment such as computers, cell phones and satellite phones. The Red Cross has activated their Safe and Well program to assist families with finding missing loved ones and is assisting shelter residents with registration on the Web site. 

U.S. Coast Guard (USCG): Port assessments report no significant pollution and no obstructions to commercial traffic. The Navigation Team has completed the assessment of water navigation aids for American Samoa and the surrounding islands; all aids are intact and considered ready to support day and night operations. 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Disaster Medical Assistance Teams are providing medical support to survivors; a public health official has been deployed along with other support staff including public health experts; providing medical and pharmaceutical equipment and supplies. 

U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI): DOI representative assisting the FEMA National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) with response and recovery planning. 

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS): Analysts at the USGS National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) are providing a range of information products to support emergency response and relief operations and will be conducting a post-tsunami investigation. 

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE): USACE reports the water system on American Samoa is functioning to near normal capacity but pressure is limited in some areas. Soldiers from the 249th Prime Power Engineer Battalion are assisting with the management of the Honolulu District’s Emergency Power PRT with the installation of FEMA generators at critical prioritized life-saving and life-sustaining public facilities like shelters, sewer and water treatment plants or emergency management and response facilities. 

U.S. Department of Defense (DOD): Defense Coordinating Officer assisting with IMATs. 

National Guard Bureau (NGB): A fourth National Guard C-17 delivered Joint Task Force (JTF) equipment; JTF personnel augmenting the FEMA Damage Assessment Teams; Hawaii National Guard’s 93rd Civil Support Team (CST) conducting medical support and HAZMAT surveys, Hawaii National Guard’s CERFP (Chemical, Biological, Radiological Nuclear Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package) performing mobile medical missions and clearing debris. 

Small Business Administration (SBA): Deploying assistance workers to assist in recovery efforts; SBA customer service representatives will issue disaster loan applications, explain the process and answer questions. 

Internal Revenue Service (IRS): The IRS is postponing certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. For details and additional information please visit www.irs.gov, use keyword American Samoa Tsunami. 

Family Reunification 

The following information is in response to the requests FEMA has received for information on family reunification services and charitable donations for the relief effort in American Samoa.  

Reuniting Families. To facilitate the reunification of families separated due to American Samoa tsunami the Red Cross has activated their “Safe and Well” program, which assists families with locating missing loved ones. Families can register on the Red Cross Safe and Well Web site at disastersafe.redcross.org/ or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to register their loved ones. 

Charitable Donations. FEMA has received many inquiries asking how to help support the response and recovery efforts. Please tell your members and constituents that monetary donations to nonprofit organizations responding to disaster is the best option for helping those affected. Financial donations will allow voluntary agencies to purchase essential items locally that are most needed by disaster survivors. Any items that are donated will have to be physically shipped to the island, which takes a substantial amount of time and requires addition funding for transportation. Below are some examples of organizations that your constituents could assist: 

The American Red Cross has deployed volunteers on the ground in American Samoa and are working to meet the mass care needs of the affected population by providing food and supplies in the area. Your financial support will help the American Red Cross respond quickly to disasters like the Pacific Islands Tsunami in American Samoa and Samoa. You can donate by calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) or (1-800-257-7575 for Spanish), or visiting www.redcross.org, to donate to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) Member organizations are actively involved in relief efforts in American Samoa and preparing for Typhoon Melor in the Northern Marianas Islands. For a list of National VOAD members and links to their Web sites, visit www.nvoad.org/.

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