PAGO PAGO, American Samoa - Federal agencies, in support of the American Samoa Government, continue in their efforts to help the territory recover from the Cyclone Heta disaster, even as the deadline to register for individual assistance draws near.
The following is an update of the federal financial aid given in the territory since President Bush issued a major disaster declaration on January 13, 2004:
- More than 8,500 American Samoans affected by the disaster have registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to apply for aid.
- FEMA has approved in excess of $9.4 million in grants from its Individuals and Households Program, for temporary rental assistance to those whose homes have been severely damaged and for repairs to make primary residences safe, sanitary and functional. Over $12.3 million has been provided by the agency for other serious needs caused by the disaster.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved approximately $3.5 million in low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters and business owners. The loans cover costs for the long-term repair or rebuilding of cyclone-damaged private property owned by individuals and businesses.
Most of the people who are eligible have already registered. Eligible residents and business owners of Tutuila and Manu’a Islands who sustained Heta-related damages or losses have until March 20, 2004, to register for assistance. Registration is by appointment only and can be scheduled by visiting the Disaster Recovery Center, located at the Gov. Rex Lee Auditorium. The center is open Monday through Saturday, from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm.
Those who have registered but have questions about their application should call the local FEMA Helpline at 633-3036.
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.