Their homes are a total loss
Local American Red Cross disaster response team members were kept busy over a one-week period responding to calls for assistance following home fires at five villages.
From Aug. 24th through Aug. 31st, the local Red Cross office received calls from 5 different families, victims of house fires, with total loss of their homes, Red Cross office manager Val Tuilefano said last Friday afternoon.
“Fortunately, there were no injuries or deaths,” Tuilefano told Samoa News.
He explained that on Aug 24th there was a fire in Lauli'i and since early last week, there were house fires in Ili’ili, Petesa, Fagasa and last Thursday at Pago Pago.
(As of last week, local ASG officials have been conducting investigations into the cause of the fires.)
“Our local Disaster Team responded to calls from the families themselves or referrals from the Department of Public Safety,” he said.
The disaster team members for the Red Cross response are Fa’asaei Davenport and Etuati Ene.
“Our standard immediate assistance is basic necessities such as cases of water, coolers, cleaning supplies, etc.,” Tuilefano explained. “Based on a physical assessment of the house damage, interviewing the head of household to obtain the number of occupants/possible special needs and circumstances, we are able to assess financial assistance to help in other basic necessities to help the family at least for the next 48 hours.”
Samoa News understands that displaced family members, are either staying with relatives or are housed at a local hotel, until they are able to secure other housing arrangements.
Tuilefano said the local Red Cross has been working overtime since the Ili’ili fire on Aug. 28th and they didn’t get a call until a few days after that.
He said Red Cross has been informed that the family was either unaware or did not think of calling the Red Cross right away for assistance.
“Red Cross will do a better job in connecting with the DPS Fire Bureau on this, so we can be in a position to help and render assistance in a more timely manner for a family,” he said, and emphasized that “Red Cross stands ready to assist our community in time of disasters.”
The local Red Cross also issued a “message of caution,” with Tuilefano saying that “since we are experiencing unprecedented windy conditions [in the past week and half], we seem to be subjected to many fires destroying homes from simple burners/ stoves inside and outside of the home if left unattended.
“Some families report electrical wiring outside near overgrown vegetation blowing near their home structures,” he said. “We must watch children playing with matches/lighters. Also, lit cigarette butts being discarded in highly combustible areas near households.
“We all have the responsibility to prevent what we can by simply heeding these cautionary measures,” he said, adding that the Red Cross has responded to the many house fires within a span of a week.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross welcomes anyone interested in becoming an official Red Cross Volunteer by registering online at <volunteerconnection.redcross.org>.
It normally only takes 10 minutes as it is basically an online registration form with vast information regarding options of choice with the American Red Cross.
The local Red Cross depends on public donations from the community to help those in need; and Red Cross donation boxes can be found on the check out counters of many retail stores in the territory.
They can be reached at 699-6011 or check out their Facebook page.