Disaster Recovery in American Samoa

October 2, 2009

American Samoa Tsunami Response from FEMA

The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) updated information on the continuation of federal support to American Samoa on 10/1/09.

FEMA and its federal partners continue to work closely with Governor Tulafono to respond in areas of American Samoa impacted by the tsunami.  The FEMA National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) and the FEMA Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC) in Region IX have been operating around the clock since Tuesday. FEMA deployed an Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) as well as a Planning and Response Team (PRT) to American Samoa to provide direct support and response. Kenneth R. Tingman, the Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) for federal response and recovery operations has toured the affected areas with the Governor of American Samoa. 

FEMA continues to facilitate the flow of resources including meals, water, blankets, shelter materials and medical supplies to meet the immediate life sustaining needs of the survivors.  Medical personal and other federal responders have also been deployed directly to the territory to aid in the response.

Reuniting Families

FEMA's National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System (NEFRLS) and The American Red Cross Safe and Well Program have been activated to reunite families that have become separated as a result of this disaster. Individuals and families can register with NEFRLS online at www.fema.gov or call 1-800-588-9822. Families can also register on the Red Cross Safe and Well Website at www.redcross.org  or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to register your loved ones.

Supplying the Island

C-130 Flights:

A United States Coast Guard C-130, from Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento, Calif. arrived at 7 a.m local time (2 p.m. EDT) on September 30th in Pago Pago, American Samoa. This flight carried Governor Tulafono, who was in Hawaii at the time of the tsunami, the initial response team of 50 personnel including Federal Coordinating Officer, Kenneth J. Tingman, Defense Coordinating Officer Col. James George, as well as team supplies for seven days.

A second United States Coast Guard C-130 from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, Calif. arrived in American Samoa at approximately 7 p.m. on September 30th, (2 a.m. EDT, October 1st). This flight included additional commodities and FEMA personnel including the Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT), a regionally-based incident 'strike team' and the Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT), medical expert volunteers that are part of the National Disaster Medical System.

C-17 National Guard Flights:

A Hawaii National Guard C-17 cargo flight from Honolulu arrived in American Samoa at 1 a.m. local time (8 a.m. EDT) on October 1st. This flight included over 40 National Guard personnel, four vehicles, hazmat materials, communications equipment, cots, blankets, food and water.

An additional Hawaii National Guard C-17 cargo flight arrived at 4 a.m. (11 a.m. EDT) on October 1st in American Samoa. This flight included 20 additional National Guard personnel, five vehicles, hazmat materials, communications equipment, cots, blankets, food and water. 

A third National Guard C-17 from McChord AFB in Bothell, WA is scheduled to arrive late tonight, local American Samoa time. This flight includes FEMA and National Guard personnel including National Guard CERF-P Search and Rescue teams, vehicles, trailers and cargo.

USS Ingraham:

This United States Navy frigate arrived in American Samoa on September 30th with food, water, commodities and two Seahawk helicopters available for search and recovery operations. The helicopters have already allowed Governor Tulafono and Federal Coordinating Officer Kenneth J. Tingman to survey damage to American Samoa.

 FEMA Partners Respond

·          U.S. Coast Guard: Assisting with flights to deploy teams to the American Samoa and disaster relief supplies; conducting shoreline cleanup and assessments; deployed team to inspect vessels and regulated facilities; developed a plan to re-float two large fishing vessels;

·          U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Deploying Disaster Medical Assistance Teams to provide medical support to survivors; a public health official has been deployed along with other support staff including public health experts; providing medical and pharmaceutical equipment and supplies;

·          U.S. Department of the Interior: Deploying National Park Service (NPS) specialists to assess damage to NPS facilities and resources and assist with ongoing recovery efforts; deployed staff to conduct a needs assessment with the local fire department; Interior's Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas, Anthony Babauta and the Director, Office of Insular Affairs, Nik Pula are departing to American Samoa to coordinate with FEMA's Federal Coordinating Officer and American Samoa's Governor;

·           U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE): At present time, USACE is deploying the 249th Engineering Battalion to support emergency power needs for critical public facilities; deploying subject matter experts in debris management, water/wastewater, and power to assist in response efforts;

·          U.S. Department of Defense (DOD):  Defense Coordinating Officer has been deployed;

·          U.S. Pacific Command (DOD): Providing refrigeration support to operations; USS Ingram prepared to assist with equipment and supplies;

·          National Guard Bureau: Deployed personnel including those with medical and search and rescue experience and disaster relief supplies; deploying specialized communication gear and support staff;

·          Small Business Administration (SBA): Deploying approximately 40 assistance workers to assist in recovery efforts; SBA customer service representatives will issue disaster loan applications, answer questions about the loan program, explain the process and answer questions;

·          Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Victims of the recent tsunami in American Samoa may qualify for tax relief from the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS is postponing certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. For details and additional information please visit www.irs.gov, use keyword American Samoa Tsunami;

·          American Red Cross: Deployed special liaison to American Samoa; dozens of volunteers on the ground in American Samoa providing food and supplies in affected areas; a leadership team of approximately 50 volunteers is on its way to the island to supplement the local Red Cross workforce;  providing cots, flashlights, cooking supplies and clean-up supplies.

Disability Community Update:

·          FEMA: A member of the FEMA External Affairs team is on the ground on the island and is the designated point of contact to direct disability issues back to the FEMA Senior Advisor, Disability Issues at Headquarters. The Senior Advisor is also working closely with the Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and People with Disabilities (ICC), US Department of Health and Human Services, National Council on Disability, American Red Cross and disability community leaders from around the country who are knowledgeable about the disability community on the Island.

·          The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN): NDRN has heard from their Protection and Advocacy affiliate on the Island and they are "back at work, assessing the damage and trying to contact their constituents to ascertain their needs."

·     Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and People with Disabilities (ICC): The US Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in its role as Chair of the ICC has reached out to the Federal partners and information about disability related issues is being shared among the members.