Excused leave granted for some ASG workers who are citizens of Samoa
In a memo issued yesterday, Gov. Togiola Tulafono authorized Executive Branch employees, who are citizens of Samoa, to take an excused leave of five working days in order to help their families in Samoa, following wide spread damage there caused by Tropical Cyclone Evan.
According to the governor a “maximum of five working days” of excused absence will be granted between Dec. 14 and Dec. 31 to these workers “to provide on-the-ground assistance to their families in Samoa as the clean up and recovery from this continuing disaster commences.”
Executive Branch employees wanting to use these excused absences must provide a copy of their 303 Employment Form, with a completed standard employee leave application form and travel documents to the governor’s deputy chief of staff Motu Seui Jr., prior to departure, the memo states.
At the same time, these employees must provide copies of their travel itineraries and receipts of payment for their travel to and from Samoa, so that the number of excused absence workdays can be calculated.
“It is my hope that granting these excused absences will provide some incentive to those with families affected by the disaster in Samoa to go assist and comfort them during their time of need,” he said.
According to the governor, the cyclone “threatened our safety and caused widespread damage to property and infrastructure” as well as “the displacement of many people from their residences and most tragically, the loss of life among our brothers, sisters, relatives and neighbors in Samoa”.
The actual number of deaths from the cyclone could not be confirmed, as regional media is reporting the death toll at two and three. Radio Zealand International reported yesterday that death toll is at two, based on reports from police; however, the toll is expected to rise as several people are still missing.
Not long after the governor’s memo was distributed yesterday morning, Samoa News received word from at least three Executive Branch employees who stated that they are from Samoa and will be leaving soon to help their families in Upolu.
One of them wanted to leave as soon as possible but flights out of Pago Pago are full as Polynesian Airlines and Inter Island Airways are trying to accommodate passengers who were displaced Wednesday and Thursday when flights were cancelled due to the cyclone. The two airlines resumed flights yesterday on the inter Samoa route.
Two of the executive branch employees said they’re waiting to get paid on Monday— ASG pay day— for money to help their families rebuild.
There was no information at press time as to whether the ASG authorities or the Fono will provide excused leave for their employees who are citizens of Samoa.
In a media statement, the U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, David Huebner offered his thoughts and condolences to the families of Evan’s victims and everyone sheltering from the storm.
“Our thoughts are with families who have lost loved ones and everyone in Samoa enduring the cyclone. It must have been a distressing night and now residents are bracing for more,” he said. “Fortunately, with their resilience, strength and sense of community spirit, I know the people of Samoa will get through this.”
Radio New Zealand International reports yesterday that Huebner has pledged US$50,000 for immediate assistance to Samoa through the Samoa Red Cross.