What’s open and what’s not — recovery continues in Am. Samoa

The state of emergency declared by Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga who submitted over the weekend the official request to the US President for an emergency declaration, which now has been approved — paves the way for federal assistance to Tutuila, hard hit by Tropical Storm Gita.

A full assessment is planned for today following a briefing at the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) late yesterday afternoon.

The biggest challenge faced by the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA) following the storm was restoring electricity, as many power lines were down in many villages with some wires in large pools of water. Power outages also caused water pumps to fail and water to villages to stop. See update inside of ASPA work on water, power and wastewater as of noon yesterday.

ASPA is asking please, call in once —to notify them of a problem, and then be patient. They are trying to bring everyone back on line as safely as they can.

A US Coast Guard C-130 airplane crew from Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii, landed Saturday afternoon at Pago Pago International Airport, after conducting an aerial post-storm assessment.

A small contingent of Coast Guard response personnel and a FEMA representative were also onboard the aircraft. These members were originally scheduled to arrive last Friday on Hawaiian Airlines but the flight was delayed due to the storm.

The Hawaiian Air flight was scheduled to arrive early yesterday afternoon at 2:40 pm and return to Honolulu two hours later, after it was delayed from Friday night into Saturday but then was canceled because of strong winds still lingering over Tutuila.

The storm had also caused interruption for inter Samoa air service as well as flights to and from Manu’a. However, it was reported that Talofa Air landed a flight on Saturday, and then both Talofa Air and Samoa Air resumed service to and from Samoa yesterday.

In the meantime, government schools — ECE, Elementary and Secondary — are closed this week, according to the governor. (See story about schools.)

It’s unknown if the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) is off. Calls were not returned for update.

For private schools, Samoa News was only able to confirm that South Pacific Academy and all Catholic schools are off today.

ANZ Bank is open for business today, while it’s unconfirmed if BoH will open.

Currently both ASTCA and Bluesky are continuing to repair their systems, with both having tower problems at various locations throughout the island.

ASTCA’s Internet service in the town area is on — as Samoa News was able to update it’s website consistently over the weekend and publish a paper for Monday. Faafetai tele lava!

A call to Bluesky yesterday afternoon confirmed that their Internet and Cable systems are down and they are working to repair them. However, their mobile and data packet services were consistent throughout the storm, while ASTCA had intermittent problems.

Both service providers are now delivering consistently, except in areas mentioned.

RED CROSS

The American Red Cross will be conducting damage assessment following the storm, says Emily Cox, the Regional Communications Director of American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties — which includes American Samoa.

 “American Red Cross disaster workers will conduct damage assessments as soon as feasible and will open a Service Center [this week] for families with major damage or destroyed homes,” Cox said Saturday afternoon from San Diego.

Red Cross will provide additional information on when the center will be open as well as the location.

Cox points out that the Red Cross supports relief efforts through distributing emergency supplies and providing casework to families whose homes are majority damaged or destroyed.

According to Cox, the Red Cross also offers the Safe and Well website a secure option that allows people to list their own status and allows friends and family to search for messages from their loved ones. To register yourself or search for a loved one on the Safe and Well website, visit redcross.org/safeandwell.

(Fili Sagapolutele, Rhonda Annesley, Theresa Auva’a and Leua Frost contributed to this report)

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