GITA UPDATE: FEMA to begin field inspections soon
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — With more than 600 residents who have already registered and asked questions about federal assistance following last month’s Tropical Storm Gita, contracted inspectors with the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be conducting field inspections soon.
Tafuna village residents, whose homes were affected by the storm, began registration for federal disaster assistance last week Monday at the FEMA and ASG jointly operated Disaster Recovery Center (DRC), located inside the DYWA Pago Pago Youth Center.
All Tafuna village subdivisions completed DRC registration last week, while more are registering today to Wednesday (See Samoa News last Friday for the list of villages.)
And once the person completes the registration process at DRC, the next step, now is that inspectors with valid identification will contact the individual to check damage to the structure such as heating, plumbing, electrical, flooring, wallboard and foundation, according to FEMA.
The inspectors will also record damage to major appliances — washer, dryer, refrigerator — and other serious needs such as clothing lost or damaged in the disaster.
In a news release, FEMA stressed that its inspection should not be confused with other assessments that residents may have received. (Two days after the storm ASG and its federal partners including FEMA carried out preliminary damage assessment, and a week later, ASG conducted another round of assessment on its own.)
Responding to Samoa News questions, FEMA public information officer, Victor Inge explained that these are FEMA contracted inspectors with identifications conducting inspections.
“We have 10 inspectors who have already begun setting appointments and doing inspections. There are 10 more inspectors inbound,” said Inge who has been on island, three days after the storm.
Asked how many impacted residents have registered at the DRC since last Thursday, Inge said, “more than 648 people have registered or asked questions through the DRC.”
“We have approved more than $59,000 for homeowners and renters, more than $47,000 of which is for housing assistance,” he points out.
According to FEMA, its inspectors use specialized software so that every applicant gets the same inspection.
Additionally, inspectors record losses but do not determine how much assistance the person may qualify for.
What’s needed, says FEMA, when an inspector arrives:
• You or member of your household who is at least 18 years old must be present.
• You will need to show a photo ID, such as a driver’s license, etc.
• Proof of occupancy such as title, mortgage payment record in name of resident.
• Owners need to present evidence of ownership such as insurance in owner’s name, title, mortgage receipts.
• Renters need to present proof of rental such as rent receipts, lease agreement, utility bill in name of renter, landlord’s name and phone number.
And thereafter, what’s next: Within a few days, you will receive a letter, text, or email to tell you the decision about your claim. If you are eligible for assistance, you will receive funds by check or electronic transfer.
[Note: Samoa News should also point out that it would seem for families who live on land as ‘tautua’ — owning the house, not the land — need to have a notarized letter from the owner or sao of the land explaining the situation and giving permission for FEMA assistance to said person(s).]
Residents of Nu’uuli and Malaeimi are scheduled for registration Monday to Wednesday this week, starting today, with residents of Nu’uuli, Numbers 0001 – 0250
• Tuesday, Mar. 20 residents of Nu’uuli, Numbers 0251 – 0369
• Tuesday, Mar. 20 residents of Nu’uuli, Numbers 0501 – 0633
• Wednesday, Mar. 21 residents of Nu’uuli, Numbers 0634 – 0731
• Wednesday, Mar. 21 residents of Malaeimi, Numbers 0001 – 0143
The center will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Only heads of household need to attend.
ASG and FEMA will announce a schedule soon for other villages to register at the DRC for federal assistance.
ASG and FEMA have released the latest list of villages up for pre-registration today and the location:
• Aua at the Catholic Church Hall;
• Onesosopo at Catholic Church hall;
• Vatia at Gaoteote Tapatonu guest house;
• Afono at Laupola guest house;
• Villages of Amaluia, Asili and Afao at the Asili CCCAS church hall; and
• Villages of Nua & Se’etaga, Utumea west, and Agagulu at Taveuveu guesthouse.