Congressman Faleomavaega today announced that he received notice from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) stating that after meeting all federal requirements, American Samoa has attained the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency and National Weather Service (NOAA/NWS) designation of TsunamiReady. American Samoa and the National Park of American Samoa will be officially designated in a ceremony on Friday, September 28, 2012, one day before the 3rd anniversary of the devastating 2009 Tsunami.
The TsunamiReady program is administered by the NOAA National Weather Service as a way to increase and strengthen the ability of communities to prepare for, mitigate, and recover from natural hazards. To be recognized as TsunamiReady, a community must establish a 24 hour warning point and emergency operations center, develop multiple ways to receive tsunami warnings and alert the public, develop a formal tsunami hazard plan, conduct emergency exercises and promote public readiness through community education.
Since the deadly tsunami of September 29, 2009, FEMA has invested nearly $100 million in disaster relief and emergency preparedness improvements for American Samoa.
FEMA-funded post-tsunami preparedness projects include:
- the purchase of a generator and two ambulances for LBJ hospital
- establishing an Emergency 9-1-1 Call Center
- the purchase and installation of an early warning siren system complete with 48 sirens throughout American Samoa
- improved airport security
- the purchase of equipment for American Samoa Department of Homeland Security’s Emergency Operation Center
- the purchase of communications equipment and official vehicles for the American Samoa Department of Homeland Security
“To date, FEMA has provided over $54 million to ASG to rebuild public infrastructure, mitigate against future disasters and reimburse ASG for expended funds on initial response. FEMA also contributed $37 million in Individual Assistance programs to our people and constructed of over 39 permanent replacement homes in collaboration with ASG. Through the Homeland Security Grant Program and Public Safety Interoperable Communications, FEMA also granted $8 million in fund to help American Samoa be more prepared for natural disasters, train first responders and citizens, and provide much needed communication equipment.”
“I want to acknowledge the efforts of American Samoa Department of Homeland Security, under the leadership of Director Tuala Mike Sala, which has truly made preparedness one of their top priorities.”
“Furthermore, I commend our National Weather Service (NWS) Pago Pago office under the leadership of HTC Mase Akapo for their timely response at the first sign of an earthquake on the morning of September 29, 2009. Because of their speedy reaction, a warning broadcast was issued and saved hundreds of lives in American Samoa, especially in the coastal villages of Tula, Poloa, and Amanave, which were devastated by the tsunami but managed to evacuate all residents.”
“In the aftermath of the tsunami, American Samoans set their hope on emerging from our tragedy stronger and this recent achievement is a major stepping stone which proves that we are on course to reaching this goal,” Faleomavaega concluded.