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Amata welcomes $17 million for 2009 tsunami recovery at DPW

Congresswoman Amata and USVI Governor Mapp, before a Natural Resources Committee hearing on several shared challenges territories face.  [courtesy photo]
Source: Media release, office of Congresswoman Aumua Amata

Washington, D.C. — Congresswoman Aumua Amata was pleased to welcome a $17.9 million continuing grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for ongoing 2009 tsunami recovery efforts through the American Samoa Department of Public Works.

“The tsunami of 2009 had a significant and long-lasting impact on American Samoa, but our people responded with determination,” said Amata. “I welcome this ongoing federal funding to continue the recovery efforts to completion, and strengthen our economy and infrastructure.”

Congress authorizes specifically this $17.92 million grant through an Emergency Relief program within the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, for the repair or reconstruction of Federal-aid highways and roads on Federal lands that have suffered serious damage as a result of natural disasters.

These funds are awarded to the territory based on the prior formal emergency declaration for the cost of damages to its eligible highways and roadways.

Eligible work includes repairs needed to restore essential traffic, minimize the extent of damage, or protect the remaining facilities as well as permanent repairs necessary to restore the highway to its pre-disaster condition.

“I appreciate the DOT’s continuing support for American Samoa’s reconstructive efforts,” Congresswoman Amata continued. “Congratulations especially to everyone at the Department of Public Works involved in this grant, and to Director Faleosina Voigt and the rest of the leadership of the department.”


Washington, D.C. — Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 — Congresswoman Aumua Amata emphasized in the Natural Resources Committee hearing several shared challenges territories face.

In her questioning of witnesses, she urged support for strong infrastructure in the territories and equitable health care treatment with the states, and highlighted American Samoa’s shared need with the U.S. Virgin Islands for a 2019 Medicaid extension to spend down funds. Finally, the territories also share a similar need for economic development tax credit initiatives in any final major tax legislation.

“While Irma and Maria were two of the worst hurricanes in recent history, the fact remains that the insular territories are no strangers to natural disasters,” said Aumua Amata. “Hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other disasters are an unfortunate part of the natural order of living on an island, making it imperative that we do all we can to prepare for them in advance.

“The insular territories are particularly susceptible, as they are isolated from receiving help from the rest of the country and often suffer more damage from disasters based on their relative size. We will do everything we can to help Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands get back on their feet, but we cannot stop there. We need to strengthen infrastructure and foster stability in all the territories before the next disaster,” she said.

On Nov. 14, the Committee on Natural Resources held an oversight hearing titled “The Need for Transparent Financial Accountability in Territories’ Disaster Recovery Efforts.”

The Committee heard testimony directly from the two territories’ governors: The Honorable Ricardo Rosselló, Governor of Puerto Rico; and the Honorable Kenneth Mapp, Governor of the United States Virgin Islands. The hearing focused on where recovery support is most needed, and efforts to prevent spending waste through oversight.

In her exchange of remarks with Governor Mapp, Congresswoman Amata focused attention on American Samoa and the Virgin Islands shared difficulty spending down Medicaid funds granted under the ACA, due to lack of resources and matching fund requirements, and the concept of an extension for the funds expiring in 2019, along with the need for equitable treatment