Update on Gita recovery efforts — electric, TV, cable, telecom, Nat'l Park
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — All public schools are scheduled to reopen today, after being closed all last week following damages caused by Tropical Storm Gita, which also resulted in the cancellation of classes at the American Samoa Community College that is also set to resume today.
More than a week after the storm, electricity has been restored to many areas of Tutuila, as residents continue clean up over the weekend and into yesterday, which was a local and federal holiday.
As of 6p.m Sunday, Feb, 18, the American Samoa Power Authority says all Feeders — Primary lines — are energized up to Fagamalo, while the remaining areas are in Tualauta with broken poles and power lines.
And ASPA has restored power to nearly 87%, or 10,440, out of its 12,000 electric customers, while all customers have water but the pressure is low in some areas.
With crew working long hours, power was restored over the weekend to private schools and the last remaining two public schools Fagali’i and Alataua elementary schools.
According to ASPA there is no power to Mt. Alava — where the KVZK-TV antenna is located — as the road to the site is inaccessible due to fallen trees and rocks. Therefore KVZK-TV is not on air.
It also points out that the island-wide precautionary Boil Water Notice issued during the storm is now lifted, however, the Boil Water Notice for the following affected areas remains in effect:
Starting from ILIILI at the Antioch Assembly of God Church eastward to PAGO PAGO at service connections on the ocean (sami) side ONLY. (Check on ASPA Facebook page for more details).
Emergency Operations Center (EOC) post-storm special bulletin last Thursday afternoon announced that ASPA was offering free socket meters to all its customers, but responding to Samoa News inquiries ASPA managing director Paul Young told Samoa News last Friday morning that he’s not sure who made such a statement, when the Authority only has a limited amount of socket meters from FEMA in its inventory, left over from a recent disaster.
He explained that a meter socket is a box that is installed to the side of the house and is where the electric service connections from ASPA goes into and the meter sits on. And the cost ranges from $50 to $100 depending on the size.
“If your meter socket was damaged by the storm, we have a limited amount to issue to customers that may need them. This will only be for customers that have a damaged meter socket due to Gita,” he said.
According to EOC’s weekend post-storm special bulletin, the American Samoa TeleCommunications Authority (ASTCA) has four communication towers that are down causing delays to return telephone service to normal in a few areas.
Bluesky American Samoa Facebook page provides new updates of its service including Moana TV.
NATIONAL PARK TRAILS CLOSED
The National Park of American Samoa recently began efforts to assess damage done to park forests and reefs by Gita and early survey reports reveal extensive damage to park trails in the form of downed trees, mud and debris slides, and fallen rocks.
At this point, all trails within the National Park and the Blunts Point World War II Heritage Trail are closed due to safety concerns, according to NPAS in a news release last Friday, adding that until further notice only authorized personnel with the proper training and safety gear are allowed on any trail the National Park Service maintains.
No park building or its facilities were damaged in the storm, and the Visitor Center in Pago Pago is open as usual.
Park’s superintendent, Scott Burch says park staff is working hard to assess damage and clear trails, but the scale of damage they are seeing will take many weeks or months to clear before trails can reopen.
He also says that the park is currently working with territory and federal partners to determine appropriate steps for recovery.