And now the recovery — high winds still impact the territory

A US Coast Guard C130 aircraft is enroute from Honolulu to American Samoa with officials from the Coast Guard and US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Scott Carr said from Honolulu this morning that the plane is carrying USCG personnel who will be checking on the grounded vessel off Leone Bay and if there is additional work to be done as a result of Tropical Cyclone Gita, “they will help out.”

The vessel grounding occurred on Monday this week before the cyclone.

Carr confirmed that a FEMA team was on the same plane but didn’t have specific details except that they were hitching a ride on the Coast Guard flight.

FEMA public affairs office in San Francisco didn’t immediately respond to a Samoa News request for comments, but it’s understood that the team had secured the flight on the C130 plane to start a damage assessment following the storm. They will be working with local officials.

As for the Port of Pago Pago, which has been closed since Friday morning due to the storm, Carr said a Coast Guard assessment is currently underway. “We want to get the port open as soon as possible. We want to make sure it’s safe before it’s opened,” said Carry in a phone interview from Honolulu.

Because of severe winds still impacting Tutuila, Hawaiian Airlines has canceled the flight today, Saturday, that was delayed from Friday night due to Tropical Storm Gita. The flight will now operate tomorrow, Sunday.

Hawaiian flight 1465 departs Honolulu at 9:30a.m. (Hawai'i time) on Sunday, Feb. 11 and arrives Pago Pago at 2:20p.m. Hawaiian flight 1466 departs Pago Pago at 4:50p.m (American Samoa time), Sunday Feb. 11.

Pago Pago International Airport is slated to be open later today, Saturday.

Meanwhile, residents of Tutuila started cleaning up as early as late Friday afternoon despite the strong winds still impacting the island. More clean up was carried out today, and local officials have start assessment of the storm’s damage.

Samoa News observed several homes and business with severe damage, some of them with roofs were ripped off. Throughout Nu’uuli and many areas of Tualauta County, especially Tafuna and Ottoville, many power lines were down.

As of 12noon today, power was slowly being restored but the downed power lines have made it difficult for the American Samoa Power Authority to restore electricity to several villages, although water has been restore in many areas.

Clean up and recover work is being hampered by the continuing severe winds and at times heavy rain.

The National Weather Service in Tafuna has issued a high wind warning for American Samoa through tonight. Northwest winds of 35 to 45 mph with gusts to 65 mph are impacting the territory.  A flash flood watch remains in effect until tomorrow afternoon.

This story will be updated as new information comes in and the Friday and overnight updates are still available on the website by paging back through local news heading.

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