Pago Pago, AS -- In the six months since an earthquake and tsunami struck American Samoa and caused extensive damage and loss of life, federal assistance has topped $33 million. Another $107 million is in the pipeline for later distribution.
The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in partnership with the American Samoa Government (ASG) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), launched recovery efforts within a day of the disastrous tsunami, which killed 32 people and left two missing
The series of waves also disabled the local power plants; destroyed 248 homes and 28 rental units; and damaged another 2,750 dwellings. One school was destroyed and another four suffered substantial damage. Roads, bridges, churches, and everything in the waves' paths were damaged to varying degrees. The small island and its 65,000 residents were left to rebuild their property and their lives.
Since then, FEMA and its federal partners, in conjunction with the American Samoa Government, have provided the following assistance to the island and its residents:
- Approved more than $22.4 million in disaster assistance for housing and disaster-related needs including 321 maximum grants of $30,300.
- Processed 8,449 valid registrations.
- Approved more than $11.4 million in Small Business Administration low-interest loans.
- Identified $82 million for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and the repair or rebuilding of public buildings and other infrastructure.
- Received applications from 30 eligible entities.
- Provided temporary generators to restore power to the island, and developed a long-term strategy to restore permanent power to the island.
- Projected $19 million to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and their property from hazards. This amount is based on a percentage of the total federal funds spent on the disaster.
- Provided temporary housing and sheltering to those whose homes were destroyed or left uninhabitable:
- Distributed 1,292 dome tents within weeks of the tsunami.
- Provided 473 Celina tents to18 villages across the island. A FEMA staffer designed a special floor using pallets and plywood to serve as floors for the Celina tents. American Samoa Government workers built the decks.
- Distributed short term housing kits including tents, comfort kits, cots/sleeping mats, camp stoves and fuel were distributed to the villages.
- Allocated funding for construction of 51 permanent housing units.
- Funded twelve Sprung structures to replace destroyed schools. FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers coordinated to provide these temporary structures until permanent school buildings could be repaired, rebuilt or relocated. These high tech structures are designed to withstand winds of up to 140 mph.
- The Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) and the Disaster Service Center welcomed 23,598 visitors seeking assistance. The centers housed the Teleregistration (DRC only), American Samoa Helpline and applicant assistance programs. FEMA and the Territory devised a schedule for each village to use the DRC which reduced the potential for long lines and made it easier for residents to seek assistance.
- During the initial response and recovery efforts, FEMA activated a variety of other federal agencies with mission assignments totaling $33 million.
"I am extremely pleased with the overall response and recovery operation we've conducted since the island suffered extensive damage last September," said Federal Coordinating Officer Kenneth Tingman. "I'm particularly pleased with the unique housing solutions we have developed to provide permanent housing as well as our strong and successful partnership with the ASG."
"In addition to the assistance from federal and territ...