UPDATE GITA: Next week’s village Disaster Recovery registrations

Territory’s State of Emergency extended for 30 days
fili@samoanews.com

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has extended for 30-days the current State of Emergency declaration as American Samoa continues to recover following last month’s Tropical Storm Gita, while the American Red Cross is planning to complete its local disaster relief operation the middle of next week. In the meantime, Nuuuli and Malaeimi registration is set to begin next week Monday through Wednesday.

The governor’s initial State of Emergency was issued within hours of Gita, which left behind much devastation on Tutuila. Under local law, the governor has the authority to extend the state of emergency, as needed.

In a Mar. 12th proclamation, the governor ordered the continuation of the state of emergency for an additional 30-days “to expedite recovery efforts and to provide a setting conducive to rapid and orderly restoration and rehabilitation of persons and property affected” by Gita.

Lolo noted that the storm left behind much devastation, including hundreds of homes that were damaged while many families remain displaced. Additionally, the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has just opened their Disaster Recovery Center to start the process of rebuilding the lives of affected individuals, businesses, and public institutions.

Lolo again calls on the government, non-government organizations, the private sector, and residents of the territory “to assist and cooperate with authorities to safeguard lives and property.”

He also noted that emergency powers of procurement and hiring, and any other lawful emergency powers remain in effect.

Lolo had issued a Feb. 13th executive order outlining, among other things, emergency procurement and hiring, as the government focuses on post-storm recovery efforts. (See Samoa News Feb. 20th edition for details).

With the extension of the state of emergency, ASG officials told Samoa News that this also means local law pertaining to “price gouging” — or raising by 10% prices on certain goods, after a disaster remains in effect, while allegations have started to surface — again — of hike in prices of certain goods in the past week.

Any consumer who believes they are facing price gouging is asked to contact the AG’s Office, at 633-4163 and ask for the Consumer Protection Bureau. (See Samoa News Feb. 13th edition for more details.)

RED CROSS

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, the American Red Cross announced it plans to complete its local Disaster Relief Operations by Mar. 21st.

Since the storm, Red Cross says it has provided assistance to local residents, and caseworkers have already opened more than 1,200 cases for affected families. It says appointment-based casework is planned to continue until the afternoon of March 21, at the Veteran Memorial Center Hall in Tafuna — across from ANZ Bank —  to serve remaining families whose homes are categorized as “destroyed” or receiving “major” damage.

Over the past five weeks, Red Cross said it provided 15,337 meals to residents in shelters and hosted 13 points of distribution (PODs) to distribute supplies including nearly 600 “Jumpstart to Recovery” kits, more than 1,200 cleanup kits, and more than 2,300 comfort kits.

Several thousand emergency supplies including mosquito nets, tarps, flashlights, and more were also distributed to families affected by the storm.

More than 220 Red Cross workers have been involved in the American Samoa disaster relief operation, including staff and volunteers deployed from across the United States, local residents, and Red Cross disaster workers supporting the operation remotely.

In addition to the relief operation, Red Cross provided training to several new volunteers and initiated the Sound the Alarm program in American Samoa. Working with the local fire authorities, the Red Cross identified areas with the highest risk for home fires and installed more than 600 free smoke alarms in 234 homes. Red Cross volunteers also helped residents create emergency escape plans for family members.

To help people affected by disasters big and small, like floods, landslides and countless other crises, make a donation to support Red Cross Disaster Relief online <redcross.org>

DRC REGISTRATION NEXT WEEK

Residents of Nu’uuli and Malaeimi are scheduled for registration next week Monday to Wednesday at the Disaster Recovery Center at the DYWA Pago Pago Community Youth Center.

• Monday, Mar. 19 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.

Reminder: applicants should have the following information on hand:

•     Social Security number.

•     Address of the damaged primary residence.

•     Description of the damage.

•     Information about insurance coverage if applicable.

•     A current contact telephone number.

•     An address where they can receive mail.

•     Bank account and routing numbers for direct deposit of funds.

American Samoa and FEMA will announce a schedule soon for other villages to register at the DRC for federal assistance.

OTHER ISSUES

According to the ASG Emergency Operations Center, today’s post-storm activities include:

•     Public Assistance Applicant briefing at the Gov. Rex Lee Auditorium at 10a.m for all government entities and nonprofit businesses, and at 2pm for churches and other businesses that want to attend.

•     Pre-registration moves to: Pago Pago West at Mauga’s guest house; Pago Pago East at Vaivao’s guest house; Taputimu at Tulifua’s guest house, and Vailoa at Satele’s guest house. For more information, call 699-0411.

•     Registration at the Disaster Recovery Center for Kokoland numbers 0001–0121.

All those who were scheduled for the DRC this week but didn't are asked to visit the DRC between 8:00am – 4p.m. tomorrow, Saturday. Only head of household needs to attend. The public will be advised of the schedule of villages, dates and times to register at the DRC.

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