WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that federal disaster funds have been made available for American Samoa to supplement emergency response efforts on the island of Tutuila struck by heavy rains and high winds and surf spawned by Tropical Cyclone Heta.
Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, said the assistance was authorized under a major disaster declaration issued by President Bush following a review of the agency's analysis of the territory's request for federal aid.
"The action taken by the President today addresses the immediate emergency priorities while we continue the process for assessing additional assistance requirements," Brown said.
Following the declaration, Brown designated the island of Tutuila eligible for federal funding to pay 75 percent of the approved cost for debris removal and emergency services related to the storm that occurred over the period of January 2-6. The funding also covers the cost of requested emergency work undertaken by the federal government.
Brown indicated that damaged surveys are continuing and other areas and additional forms of assistance may be designated later based on the results of the assessments. He named Thomas J. Costello of FEMA to coordinate federal recovery operations in the affected area.
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 the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.