GITA UPDATE: Nat’l Red Cross personnel head home, while DRC registration continues

fili@samoanews.com

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — American Red Cross personnel and volunteers deployed to American Samoa following last month’s Tropical Storm have returned to the US, with their disaster recovery work completed and turned over to the local Red Cross as registration for assistance at the Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) inside the DYWA Pago Pago Youth Center, continues this week with more villages.

RED CROSS

American Red Cross San Diego/Imperial Counties, which includes American Samoa, announced two weeks ago that it would officially complete disaster relief operations on Mar. 21 following the Feb. 9 storm.

Red Cross staff, disaster workers and volunteers who were deployed to Pago Pago returned to their US bases and hometowns last Thursday night — which is also when Hawaiian Airlines officially changed its Friday flights to Thursdays, while still maintaining the Monday night regular flight.

“We have completed the relief operation and returned the local Red Cross office to its normal day-to-day operations,” said Red Cross regional communications director Emily Cox over the weekend in response to Samoa News inquiries.

However, “comfort kits, clean-up kits and welcome kits are still being distributed by local [American Samoa] volunteers as new tents are installed by the American Samoan government at locations of destroyed homes,” Cox said via email from San Diego.

Cox, who had been on island for nearly two weeks before returning to the mainland, also says that the Red Cross worked closely with the American Samoan government to receive damage assessment information.

(And that ASG information is how Red Cross follows up with its response to local residents, says ASG officials and two local Red Cross volunteers — who noted that Red Cross workers had received some very angry responses from residents who said they had not been served although their homes had suffered damage.)

Cox explained that more than 220 Red Cross disaster workers were involved in the American Samoa disaster relief operation, including staff and volunteers deployed from across the United States, local American Samoa residents, and Red Cross disaster workers supporting the operation remotely.

Some final information from Cox on the overall Red Cross disaster response:

• More than 1,650 cases were opened for families affected by Gita, including more than 11,000 family members. Roughly 20% of the population of American Samoa received Red Cross assistance

• Red Cross supported feeding efforts in shelters with more than 15,300 meals served.

• Red Cross hosted 13 points of distribution (PODs) throughout American Samoa to distribute supplies including nearly 600 “Jumpstart to Recovery” kits, nearly 1,300 clean-up kits, and more than 2,300 comfort kits. Several thousand emergency supply items including mosquito nets, tarps, flashlights, and more were also distributed to families affected by the storm.

• Nearly 2,500 phone calls were fielded at the Red Cross office

DRC REGISTRATION

More villages have been added to the list for registration for federal disaster assistance at the DRC — which is jointed operated by the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and ASG — for this week, Mar. 26 to Wed. Mar. 28. The public is reminded that only heads of household need attend to the registration process and the DRC is open 8a.m. to 4p.m.

For today, Monday, Mar. 26 - Faleniu numbers 0001 – 0098 and 0501 – 0653.

For Tuesday, Mar. 27:

•     Faleniu numbers 0654 – 0762

•     Matu’u numbers 0001 – 0043

•     Faganeanea numbers 0001 – 0021

•     Mesepa numbers 0001 – 0060.

On Wednesday, Mar. 28:

•     Fatumafuti numbers 0001 – 0006

•     Faga’alu numbers 0001 – 0081

•     Futiga numbers 0001 – 0080

Applicants should have the following information at hand for registration:

Social Security number; Address of the damaged primary residence; Description of the damage; Information about insurance coverage if applicable; current contact telephone number; a PO Box where they can receive mail; and Bank account and routing numbers for direct deposit of funds.

For future village dates and times to register at the DRC, a schedule will be provided by the Territory and FEMA.

A reminder from FEMA: Individuals with access and functional needs who are heads of household and still need to register should call the Crisis Hotline at (684) 633-9017. FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance (DSA) Teams will come to your home to register you – you do not need to come to the DRC. Those in Ottoville already visited by DSA, with slips that have DSA written on them, do not have to come to the DRC, as they are already registered with FEMA.

FEMA have already started fieldwork inspection of those who have already registered at the DRC and homeowners are reminded to have someone home, when FEMA contracted inspectors show up.

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