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Lolo admin putting together fundraising event for victims of Hurricane Harvey

Jamica Batts sits on a hotel bed with her two-month-old baby Jarasiah Batts as they pack to leave Monday, Sept. 4, 2017, in Houston. Batts and her brother Alvin may now be forced to go from the hotel they have been staying in after Hurricane Harvey, to an area shelter. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

The Lolo Administration is working on putting together a fundraising event for the victims of Hurricane Harvey that has so far claimed more than 30 lives in Texas, while the local American Red Cross office is awaiting “official word” from the national level for deployment of volunteers to hurricane damaged areas in Texas and Louisiana.

At an emergency cabinet meeting last week, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga informed cabinet directors that a territorial wide fundraising activity will be conducted to help displaced families in Texas.

Lolo said he has appointed a committee to organize the fundraising in collaboration with the local Red Cross office.

During his special remarks last Friday at the annual Workforce Appreciation Day at the Veterans Memorial Stadium, the governor publicly announced that the administration will hold in the very near future a fundraising event for those displaced by Hurricane Harvey, and he called on the community for support.

He said that American Samoa has had its shares of natural disasters over the years and therefore local residents fully understand the impact of such disasters on people.

A moment of silence, called by the governor, was held at the stadium for Harvey's victims and survivors.

Yesterday morning, the Associated Press quoted Texas authorities saying that the hurricane is to be blamed for at least 60 deaths.

Harvey first made landfall near Rockport, Texas, the evening of Aug. 25th, with national news media reporting that it had stalled off the US Gulf Coast for five days and then, for the second time, made landfall sometime last Wednesday, as a Tropical Storm, heading up to Louisiana.

As previously reported by Samoa News, the local Red Cross office had received a “general request” for volunteers to areas of Texas and Louisiana.

Responding to Samoa News inquiries for an update on the deployment of local Red Cross volunteers, local American Red Cross office manager, Val Tuilefano said over the weekend that, it is “still on hold until official clearance from the national level.”

“So the official word on local volunteers in American Samoa is we await word from San Diego that put a request into the national office handling and approving the requests from the various Red Cross Chapters/ Regions throughout the U.S., including San Diego/Imperial Counties/ American Samoa,” Tuilefano explained.

“American Samoa, of course, logistically deploying outside of the continental U.S. is a bit more of a challenge than from deploying a team residing in California or neighboring states,” he said, adding that “our local office awaits patiently if and when the call is received, we have a well trained team to deploy, representing American Samoa.”

As for ASG organizing a fundraising event, Tuilefano applauds the governor and his administration for taking such action to help others, saying that the government had spearheaded similar efforts in the past — in the aftermath of natural disasters in Tonga, the Philippines and Samoa.

He noted that the local Red Cross office cannot lead such fundraising events as “we continue to make our priority our local disasters.” (See separate story in today’s edition on latest Red Cross response to local disasters).