PAGO PAGO, American Samoa -- Substantial federal financial assistance is available to help American Samoa communities and villages deal with the extraordinary costs associated with Cyclone Heta of January 2-6. These funds are available as a result of President Bush’s January 15, disaster declaration and the January 20 amendment, which were requested by Governor Togiola Tulafono.
An Applicant Briefing will be held Wednesday January 21 at 8:00 am at the American Samoa Power Authority Conference Room. The briefing is to explain the Public Assistance process to local officials and certain non-profits.
“The cyclone 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.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance program reimburses 75 percent of eligible expenses 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.
Political subdivisions, government agencies and some private non-profit organizations seeking federal reimbursement for costs incurred because of the disaster are encouraged to file the necessary Request for Public Assistance (RPA) form with the American Samoa Disaster Recovery Office (ASDRO) in Tafuna (699-1330). Forms must be filed by February 15, 2004. For further information, contact the FEMA Disaster Field Office at 684-633-3001 extension 7124.
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.