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Fed expected to inject more than $60M into local economy for Gita recovery

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In addition, govt’s insurance claim stands at over $16M

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — As a result of Tropical Storm Gita early this year, more than $60 million in federal financial assistance “has been and will be injected” into the local economy, while the government’s insurance claim for loss and damage caused by the storm stands at over $16 million, according to an ASG presentation last week during the Governor’s cabinet meeting.

Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga. who is also the Governor’s Authorized Representative (GAR) for this disaster, led the ASG presentation, saying that American Samoa continues to remain in the recovery phase following the storm and the government continues working with the feds during this phase.

Office of Disaster Assistance & Petroleum Management (ODAPM) deputy director, Salu Tuigamala explained the status of Public Assistance projects, which total 103 with nine of them funded. She said money has already started coming in for five of those projects, which are for debris removal.

She explained that the remaining projects are undergoing review by the US Federal Emergency Management Agency. It was also noted that these projects are also subject to other reviews — for example, environmental, and hazard mitigation and therefore it takes time for final approval.

Treasury Department official Lulu Barber gave a summary of what American Samoa has received or will be able to receive as a result of Gita — through individual assistance and public assistance from the federal level.

To date, she said that over $30.5 million for the individual housing program “has been disbursed” to individuals; $10.6 million approved through the US Small Business Administration loan programs; $19.8 million through the other needs assistance for housing assistance program; about $11.2 million in public assistance for the 103 projects and about $6 million for hazard mitigation

That gives a total estimate of $66.7 million for federal money “that has been and will be injected into our economy,” she declared.

Also part of the ASG presentation was the government’s Insurance Commissioner, Peter Fuimaono, who — according to the Governor’s Office — will remain on the job after Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga had consultation with Lemanu, who issued a July 26 memo appointing Elizabeth Perri to assume the post of Acting Insurance Commissioner, effective immediately.

The governor was off-island at the time the memo was issue by Lemanu who was acting governor at the time.

Fuimaono reported on Gita insurance for loss and damage to government property, saying that insurance claim of $18.6 million was submitted in May to insurer, Lloyds of London. “Normally once we submit [a claim], the insurance company will then process the ‘progress payment’ which is 30% or $6.3 million” of the total claim, he explained, noting that he expected to hear this week word about the progress payment.

Fuimaono also says that they are putting together all the supporting documents, working with ODAPM, to justify the insurance claim, and it will take another three months to be finalized.

Gov. Lolo instructed the government to prepare a “briefing” for the Fono on the Gita update in case it’s requested by lawmakers.

Samoa News understands that several lawmakers are planning to request such a briefing or for ASG to provide a report on the Gita recovery as well as total monies provided by the federal government for storm recovery as well as how much ASG will pay for its cost-sharing with FEMA as a result of this disaster.

As previously reported by Samoa News, US President Donald J. Trump last month amended his Gita storm disaster declaration where FEMA now pays 90% of the total cost and ASG pays 10%.