Second round of assessments now underway for Gita victims
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The American Red Cross has issued Client Assistance Cards (CAC) to individuals whose homes have been assessed by the American Samoa Government (ASG) and considered to have sustained major damages or destruction as a result of Tropical Storm Gita.
Yesterday, the government launched a second assessment of homes that were not covered in the initial assessment, which was carried out three days after Gita left behind devastation on Tutuila.
According to the Red Cross — which currently has 170 staff members and volunteers working on this disaster — the services the non-profit group is providing to those affected by Gita are based on the Damage Assessments that have been completed by ASG and Public Works.
ASG has classified three levels of damage for homes already assessed — Minimum Damage, Major Damage, or Destroyed.
Red Cross says it has visited 13 villages identified as central locations to distribute emergency supplies to households assessed at the three levels of damage, and over 29,000 total items have already been distributed. These include tarps, clean up kits, coolers, portable stoves with propane, jumpstart to recovery kits, and comfort kits.
Red Cross is also providing casework for families who have been assessed by ASG as having Major Damage, or Destroyed homes; and Client Assistance Cards (CAC) are being issued to individuals in these two assessed categories.
Those assessed with Minor Damage are not eligible for the CAC, according to the Red Cross.
“The cards do not have any funds on them when issued, because the American Red Cross verifies that the card was issued properly and then activates it,” according to Red Cross, adding that the process takes 3 days from the day the card is issued.
Once the process is completed, according to the Red Cross, the client will be able to access the funds on the card, although the total amount of funds in each card is unknown.
Red Cross did say that the funds "can be taken from an ATM (cash) machine, or they can be used at vendors that accept Visa cards.”
It said, “Once activated, the card is to be used for immediate storm related needs such as food, clothing, laundry, fuel, and home repair needs.”
Specifics on what is considered “home repair needs” were not disclosed.
The Red Cross has also been providing meals in temporary shelters however, people are encouraged to leave the temporary shelters when able, especially as assistance is received from the Red Cross or ASG.
As of the close of business on Monday this week, Red Cross supported 11 emergency shelters serving 15,212 meals. Additionally, it delivered 528 jumpstart to recovery kits; 1381 clean up kits, and 1025 comfort kits.
Yesterday, the Red Cross conducted distribution and casework at the Methodist hall in Fagaima and the Department of Youth and Women's Affairs in Pago Pago.
Following complaints from many residents that their homes were either destroyed or damaged by Tropical Storm Gita but were not visited during the first damage assessment, the government is conducting a second assessment, which started yesterday.
There are 10 teams covering villages throughout Tutuila and Emergency Operations Center public information officer, Tuimavave T. Laupola said the second assessment would continue throughout this week until all villages are visited.
The first assessment, a joint one with federal partners, was carried out Feb. 12th and completed last week, although there were still more data being collected by ASG, which worked with the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
In a joint Samoa News/ KSBS-FM interview yesterday, Tuimavave explained that data from the first assessment was used for Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga’s request to the federal government for a US presidential major disaster declaration.
Tuimavave said teams for the second assessment are working with village mayors, and he recommends that if your home — whether damaged or destroyed during the storm — was not on the initial list as being assessed, to contact your pulenu’u or the Emergency Operations Center at 699-3800.
“We don’t want to miss anyone from the assessment,” said Tuimavave, who is also director of the ASG Office of Public Information (KVZK-TV).
The government is also asking that someone be at home to direct the assessment team to areas of the home that were damaged or destroyed. For example, the front of the home may not show any damage but there may be damage to the backside of the house, with such information needed by the assessment teams.
Gov. Lemanu Palepoi Sialega Mauga, who is also the Governor’s Authorized Representative (GAO), noted the need for a second assessment during the daily briefing early this week at the EOC.
The 10 teams and the villages covered during the second assessment was publicly released yesterday morning by EOC:
- TEAM 1: Tafuna: Kokoland, Fagaima, Ottoville, Petesa
- TEAM 2: Upper Iliili, Lower Iliili, Vaitogi, Fogagogo
- TEAM 3: Pavaiai, Faleniu, Malaeimi, Mesepa
- TEAM 4: Aasu, Aoloau, Tafeta, Mapusaga Fou
- TEAM 5: Leone: Sogi, Puapua, Malaeloa, Taputimu, Vailoa, Futiga
- TEAM 6: Amaluia, Afao, Asili, Nua & Seetaga, Amanave, Poloa, Fagalii, Fagamalo, Fagamutu
- TEAM 7: Matuu, Nuuuli - including Coconut Point, Fagasa
- TEAM 8: Fatumafuti, Fagaalu, Utulei, Fagatogo, Pago Pago, Aua
- TEAM 9: Laulii, Amaua, Auto, Utusia, Fagaitua, Pagai, Afono, Vatia, Masausi, Masefau, Sailele
- TEAM 10: Utumea, Amouli, Aoa, Alofau, Alao, Auasi, Aunuu, & Onenoa
KVZK-TV STILL OFF THE AIR
Tuimavave also apologizes to the public as KVZK-TV remains off the air since the storm, because there is no electricity to Mt. Alava, where the station’s transmitter is located. KVZK along with Public Works and the American Samoa Power Authority are working to clear the road to Mt. Alava.
KVZK is also working with the America Samoa TeleCommunications Authority and Bluesky on possible options to start airing KVZK programs, while work is carried out to clear the road to the transmitter.