FEMA is coming


Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — With US President Donald Trump’s signing of a major disaster declaration for American Samoa, the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) plans to announce in the coming days the opening of the Disaster Recovery Center in Pago Pago where local residents and business owners can register for federal aide.

Trump on Friday approved Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga’ request for the major disaster declaration. Both the governor and FEMA issued separate statements announcing Trump’s approval of the request, which was made Feb. 25. (See earlier story.)

The White House in a news release, dated Friday, but made public Saturday, says the President’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the territory of American Samoa. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Additionally, federal funding is available to the territory and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair and replacement of facilities damaged by the storm.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures throughout the territory.

Benigno Bern Ruiz, FEMA’s Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in Pago Pago, is quoted in the release saying that additional designations may be made at a later date if warranted by the results of damage assessments.

It also says that FEMA will announce in the coming days the opening of the Disaster Recovery Center where residents and business owners who sustained losses due to the storm can begin applying for assistance. Additionally, local government is planning an orderly process to assist all survivors and will provide details through community and media channels.

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