PAGO PAGO, American Samoa - To date, approximately $800,000 in federal disaster assistance has been approved to help the American Samoa Government (ASG) in its recovery from January's Cyclone Heta disaster.
The money has been obligated under the Public Assistance Program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and will be provided as reimbursement for 75% of the costs incurred by the territorial government because of Heta. The final federal share is expected to reach $9 million, once all eligible projects that ASG has submitted for funding have been approved.
"Our agency's Public Assistance Program finances essential government costs only," said Thomas J. Costello of FEMA, the federal coordinating officer for the Heta disaster. "We have explained the procedures for requesting and receiving assistance to territorial officials through a series of briefings and meetings."
The bulk of funding will go towards the cost of restoring and repairing utilities (specifically, electrical power and telephone lines) as well as replacing and repairing public buildings.
The categories of expenses eligible for funding can also include debris removal; emergency protective measures, including overtime pay for emergency workers; repair of roads and bridges; repair of water control facilities; and repair of recreational facilities such as parks.
FEMA's Public Assistance Program is administered in the territory by ASG.
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.