FEMA Invests $100 Million in Post-Tsunami Disaster Relief, Emergency Preparedness Improvements for American Samoa

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Release date: 
September 27, 2012
Release Number: 
RIX-NR-12-12

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                          
September 27, 2012                           

Media Contacts: Mary Simms (510) 301-7914, mary.simms@fema.dhs.gov; Matt Ocana, 801-540-7207, matt.ocana@noaa.gov; Daniel Langkilde, (684) 699-3801, dlangkilde2009@gmail.com

NOAA will certify Territory as TsunamiReady this week


Honolulu, Hawaii -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded nearly $100 Million dollars in Post-Tsunami improvements to American Samoa for lifesaving emergency management systems that include an early warning siren system, 9-1-1 emergency call center and the completion of a formal tsunami hazard plan that proved instrumental in helping the island achieve the coveted status of TsunamiReady.   

To be recognized as TsunamiReady, a community must establish a 24 hour warning point and emergency operations center, develop multiple ways to receive tsunami warnings and alert the public, develop a formal tsunami hazard plan, conduct emergency exercises and promote public readiness through community education.  Given that American Samoa is located 120 miles away from the Tonga Trench, one of the fastest moving subduction zones in the world, tsunmi readiness is paramount to the island’s safety posture. 

After meeting all federal requirements, this week the islands of Tutuila, Aunuu, Ofu, Olosega and Tau and all of the National Park of American Samoa have attained the federal NOAA/NWS designation of TsunamiReady and will be officially designated as TsunamiReady in a ceremony with senior American Samoan Government, NOAA and FEMA officials.

“This subduction zone will continue to produce earthquakes and potentially damaging tsunamis,” said Regional Administrator Nancy Ward. “American Samoa Government officials have truly made preparedness one of their most important priorities.  Their training and outreach programs have achieved remarkable results that will help save future lives.”

On September 29, 2009 the South Pacific Tsunami was generated by a series of earthquakes that took place at possibly the closest point of this trench to American Samoa, causing fatalities and regional devastation.  Resources have been invested by federal, territorial, voluntary and private sectors partners since the killer wave came ashore in 2009 that have helped the territory to achieve a heightened level of preparedness. 

The whole community of American Samoa has come together during the past three years to make the citizens of the islands safer and better prepared to meet a wide variety of threats. 

“This is a perfect example of the resilience of the Pacific Islanders and the value of government coordination and cooperation.  Everyone met this disaster head on and never stopped moving forward.  This recognition is something that the people of American Samoa and their many partners can be very proud of,” said Jeff LaDouce, Director of NOAA’s National Weather Service Pacific Region.

Post-Tsunami FEMA funded projects include:  the purchase of a generator and two ambulances for LBJ hospital and establishing an Emergency 9-1-1 Call Center.  In addition, funds were used to purchase and install an early warning siren system complete with 48 sirens throughout American Samoa.   Funds were also used to improve airport security and to purchase equipment for American Samoa Department of Homeland Security’s Emergency Operation Center.  Communications equipment and Official vehicles for the American Samoa Department of Homeland Security were also acquired.  The Land-Mobile-Radio project contract has been awarded and is the next phase to be implemented to improve communication capability on the island. 

FEMA’s aggregated financial assistance to long term recovery have included:

•           Awarding more than $37 million in FEMA’s Individual Assistance programs.  This includes assistance under various FEMA programs, including Housing Assistance, Other Needs Assistance that provided support for dental, medical, moving, storage and a variety of other needs

•           The award of more than $54 million to the ASG to rebuild public infrastructure, mitigate against future disasters and reimburse the American Samoa government for some of the money spent during the initial response.

•           In consultation with the American Samoan Government, FEMA has rebuilt and turned over 39 permanent replacement homes to deserving American Samoan families who lost their homes as a result of the devastating tsunami. 

•           The award of more than $8 Million in Homeland Security Grant Program funds and Public Safety Interoperable Communications funding used for planning and to help American Samoa to be more prepared for natural disasters, train first responders and citizens of American Samoa and provide much needed communication equipment. 

The TsunamiReady program is administered by the National Weather Service as a way to increase and strengthen the ability of communities to prepare for, mitigate, and recover from natural hazards.  The TsunamiReady ceremony for the Territory of American Samoa and the National Park of American Samoa, will be held at 10:30 a.m. at the Maota Samoa at Utulei Beach on Friday, September 28, 2012, one day before the 3rd anniversary of the devastating 2009 South Pacific Tsunami.   

An American Samoa Tsunami Study was conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Honolulu District in cooperation with the American Samoa Government to help strengthen American Samoa's ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from tsunami hazards.  To view the study visit:  astsunamiresilience.org/reports/

To learn more about this disaster, please visit:  https://www.fema.gov/disaster/1859

MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA:  To request photos from the event and/or schedule an interview, please email your request to External Affairs Officer Mary Simms at mary.simms@fema.dhs.gov.  Please include your name, media affiliation and contact information in your request.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

 

Last Updated: 
December 11, 2012 - 15:31
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