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Press Release



Salazar Announces $1.2 Million Assistance to American Samoa for Post-Tsunami Disaster Recovery Initiatives



02/25/2010

Kendra Barkoff (202) 208-6416
Tanya Joshua (202) 208-6008
Tanya_Joshua@ios.doi.gov

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced that the Department is providing $1.2 million in special assistance to the Government of American Samoa for post-tsunami disaster recovery projects.

“The Federal Government responded to this catastrophe with a full, swift and aggressive assistance program and continues to assist the American Samoa people by providing the resources necessary to recover,” Secretary Salazar said.  “We keep those who have lost so much in our thoughts and prayers, as we provide the funds, technical assistance and federal program resources that will not only care for those affected by this tragic event but also better prepare American Samoa to deal with future natural disasters.”

Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Tony Babauta signed the grant award that provides $340,000 that will enable the American Samoan Department of Human and Social Services to establish a comprehensive, long-term mental health system for tsunami victims.  Additionally, $860,000 will assist in a collaborative effort with the University of Hawaii to complement, strengthen and sustain disaster recovery initiatives and improvements and establish an electronic system for safeguarding employee records and data.  These funds are in addition to the government operation and economic development funds the Department provides the American Samoa Government, enabling it to offer a wide-array of easily accessible services for residents of American Samoa. 

“Coupled with the leadership of Governor Togiola and the great resilience of the people of American Samoa, Federal support has helped the island emerge stronger and better prepared for any future disaster,” said Assistant Secretary Babauta. “I am pleased that Interior can be part of this recovery effort.”

A magnitude 8.3 earthquake occurred about 100 miles southwest of American Samoa on September 29, 2009.  The quake struck about 33 kilometers below the seabed but rocked the island and generated several tsunami flood surges that came ashore, flooding low-lying villages, roads, homes, and other structures. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency activated its National Response Coordination Center, as well as its Regional Response Coordination Center to support American Samoa people as they responded to the earthquake and tsunami.  Working closely with the US Coast Guard, FEMA, which had provisions pre-positioned in Hawaii, deployed an Incident Management Assistance Team as well as a Planning and Response Team to provide support and on the ground assessment as resources were deployed to areas needing immediate assistance.

www.doi.gov/oia