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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa, (Samoa News, Mar. 27) - The Disaster Recovery Center (DRC), operated jointly by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Samoa Government (ASG), officially closed yesterday as the federal government winds down its disaster assistance for the Territory following Tropical Cyclone Heta.

Located at Lee Auditorium, the DRC was officially opened not long after U.S. President George W. Bush declared American Samoa a disaster area paving the way for federal assistance from FEMA and the US Small Business Administration (SBA) to aid local residents and business owners impacted by Heta.

Registrations for FEMA assistance ended on March 20 with nearly 9,300 American Samoa residents and business owners applying for FEMA aid.

The federal officials said they have very fond memories of American Samoa and noted that "it has been an experience in more ways than one".

"What we hope for, is that, we leave American Samoa in a much better condition than when were first arrived," said Gaspari and echoed by his colleagues at FEMA.

One of the first FEMA spokesman who field media questions after the cyclone, John Treanor, return to the mainland more than three weeks ago and Marcello replaced him as the local media contact.

The temporarily jobs that became available due to Heta recovery help the local workforce and the territory economy. FEMA and SBA officials and personnel also contribute to the local economy by way of shopping, dining and staying at local hoteliers.

Marcello said the federal team, especially the woman were very delighted that there are places on island that sells materials and seamstresses that takes care of the job.

She said its not something that not really available on the mainland.

During the interview, other federal officials were clearing out equipment that needed to be send back to the mainland, after a massive deployment of federal personnel and equipment to American Samoa after Heta.

See Monday's edition of Samoa News on the latest figures of federal aid to local residents following Heta.

April 1, 2004

Samoa News: www.samoanews.com


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