TsunamiReady ceremony to be held Friday as 3rd anniversary of 2009 disaster approaches


The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the past three years has awarded close to $100 million in Post-Tsunami improvements to American Samoa for lifesaving emergency management systems, according to a FEMA national news release today.

FEMA officials say this includes 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 territory “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, tsunami readiness is paramount to the island’s safety posture, said FEMA.

FEMA Regional Administrator, Nancy Ward says this subduction zone will continue to produce earthquakes and potentially damaging tsunamis.

 “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,” said Ward in the news release.

Ward, who is currently in Honolulu along with other U.S. officials, arrives tonight for tomorrow’s ceremony at Utulei beach for the official designation of TsunamiReady for American Samoa - covering all of the islands. (More details from the FEMA news release in tomorrow’s edition of Samoa News.)

The ceremony is being held a day before the 3rd anniversary of the 2009 tsunami that killed 34 people in the territory. (See Tuesday’s edition of Samoa News about the TsunamiReady ceremony.)

Meanwhile, the Rotary Club of Pago Pago along with Hawaiian Airlines will hold a memorial service Saturday to remember the victims of the tsunami, which was spawned by an 8.0 earthquake, that came ashore just after 6:30a.m. as residents were on their way to work or school and others were still at home.

The service will be held at the Tsunami Memorial Picnic Shelter located at Lions Park. The memorial shelter was constructed through a joint effort by the Rotary Club and Hawaiian Airlines and was dedicated in July last year.

The memorial shelter includes a memorial plaque with the names of the 2009 tsunami victims, whose families and friends are invited to attend the Saturday memorial service.  Gov. Togiola Tulafono the worst disaster in American Samoa’s history has called the 2009 tsunami.

The government has yet to announce if it will hold an official ceremony on Saturday.


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