Pago Pago, American Samoa -- Substantial federal financial assistance is available to help American Samoan local governments, communal villages and some non-profits deal with the extraordinary costs associated with the flash floods and severe mudslides of May 19-21. These funds are available as a result of President Bush's June 6, 2003, disaster declaration, which was requested by Governor Togiola Tulafono.
"The mudslides damaged roads, bridges, buildings, and equipment and burdened municipal resources for response, debris removal and protective measure costs in many communities," Lieutenant Governor Aitofele Sunia said. "Most of these communities would be hard-pressed to cover these costs without the help of federal disaster assistance."
Damage to the villages should be reported to the mayor of the village. The mayors should in turn contact the American Samoa Government (ASG) Public Assistance Officer, Jack Kachmarik, at 699-1329 to report the damages.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance program reimburses 75 percent of eligible expenses, less insurance adjustments, in accordance with the Robert T. Stafford Act. These include costs for the repair and replacement of disaster-damaged public facilities, as well as the costs of debris removal and overtime for emergency protective services. The Territory and local governments share the remaining 25 percent of the costs.
Individuals and families wishing to register for assistance from the storms must go to the Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) at the Lee Auditorium. The DRC will be open Monday to Friday between 7:30 am and 5:00 pm and on Saturday 8:00 to 12:00 noon until further notice.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages Citizen Corps, the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.