News Release

Federal Emergency Management Agency Pago Pago, American Samoa Feb. 23, 2010


Following the Sept. 29 earthquake and tsunami in American Samoa, more than 8,400 residents registered for Territory/Federal assistance. In support of the recovery effort, the U.S. Small Business Administration has made more than US$10 million in loans. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Individuals and Households Program (IHP) has granted approximately US$22 million to eligible applicants for housing repairs and other needs such as medical, dental, and funeral; and a Permanent Housing Construction project is underway.

Not all help came from the government. Fortunately, a Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) was already in place. VOAD is the forum in which organizations share knowledge and resources to help those affected by a disaster. American Samoa’s VOAD was formed in 2004 after Hurricane Heta hit the Island.

As their mission was completed, the group naturally lost momentum. By chance, just months prior to the tsunami, there was a reawakening of the membership. The group, working with National VOAD, identified goals they could achieve by pooling together all identified resources.

ASVOAD went on to establish a multi-agency long term recovery committee that serves the unique unmet recovery needs of individuals and their families. The group works to deliver assistance without duplicating what other agencies can or have provided.

The Long Term Recovery Committee (LTRC) has now entered into the recovery process and is meeting to best determine how to coordinate its efforts. Through its Voluntary Agency program, FEMA is working with Reverend Sam Tialavea, Sr., Dr. Falema’o M. "Phil" Pili, and Evelyn Sao-Stevens who are coordinating with territory and local counterparts to assemble a team of people who specialize in organizing and supporting local recovery efforts.

Case Managers from the LTRC recently were asked by the American Samoa Government to perform damage assessments on the Island of Manu’a after Cyclone Rene’s recent pass.

The mission of the LTRC is to help residents for whom federal and state assistance will not be enough. It serves as a clearinghouse and point of contact for volunteer efforts to repair damaged housing by mediating between homeowners in need and volunteer groups.

The whole process of assistance delivery begins when applicants with disaster damage register with FEMA. When they have exhausted all available FEMA/Territory assistance and still have serious unmet needs, they are referred to the LTRC. The LTRC will identify the agency with the appropriate resources to help and will provide the applicant with contact information.

Homeowners, whose primary residence was damaged or destroyed, may be eligible for referral to the LTRC. This would be if they still have unmet needs even after receiving the maximum amount of Individuals and Households Program (IHP) assistance.

Long-term assistance for eligible applicants consists of: transportation, family counseling, housing and rental aid, food vouchers, building and repair, debris removal, elderly services, children’s services, donated goods and clothing, financial support, food, skilled labor, utility bill assistance, language translators and assistance for the hearing impaired and Deaf.

If a person qualifies, the LTRC caseworker will assist them in developing an individual recovery plan.

The following groups make up the LTRC for American Samoa:

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.

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