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Gov creates council to oversee hazard mitigation policy and actions

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Gov. Lemanu Peleti Palepoi Sialega Mauga, through an Apr. 20th memorandum, established the 13-member Territorial Hazard Mitigation Council, which is to assist the Territorial Emergency Management Coordination Office (TEMCO) in fulfilling its responsibilities outlined in local law.

The governor outlined in his memo, released Monday this week by the Governor’s Office, responsibilities of the Council. Among them is assisting the American Samoa Government in identifying hazard mitigation issues and opportunities facing the territory for development of a comprehensive hazard mitigation strategy.

The Council also shall prepare strategies, policies and reports on hazard mitigation issues and provide recommendations to the Governor, the Fono, and key territorial agencies involved in mitigation related areas within their normal agency missions.

Furthermore, it would ensure collaboration and cooperate fully to develop and execute sustainable hazard mitigation actions to reduce risks posed to the territory.

Additionally, it will coordinate with and support agency efforts in obtaining and administering federal and other grants, including post-disaster mitigation grants available under the federal Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to promote hazard mitigation opportunities with the territory.

And the Council shall, also, identify and prioritize mitigation activities annually for funding under the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program, Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, Flood Mitigation Assistance, Public Assistance, Repetitive Flood Claims, Severe Repetitive Loss and other mitigation funds that become available.

Council members are: Governor’s Authorize Representative — who is currently Lt. Gov. Talauega Eleasalo V. Ale; a member each from the Senate and House appointed by Senate President and House Speaker; Secretary of Samoan Affairs; Commerce director; Port Administration director; Public Works director; American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency director; Historic Preservation Office director; American Samoa Power Authority executive director; American Samoa TeleCommunications Authority chief executive officer; local Chamber of Commerce chairperson, and the director of the  local Homeland Security Department — which oversees TEMCO.

According to the governor, each Council member shall designate a representative or alternate to attend Council meetings and functions in the event they are unable to attend.

The governor’s directive, effective immediate and sent to cabinet members was also copied to the Fono leaders.