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Lolo thanks task force, working group & FEMA for support for Emergency Declaration

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Speaking at the start of the ASG COVID-19 task force meeting Sunday, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga commended the hard work by the task force and its working group as well as other agencies for providing data and information that resulted in US President Donald Trump approving last Friday, the presidential COVID-19 emergency declaration for American Samoa.

He also expressed appreciation to non-ASG staffers, who are members of the task force such as Dr. Fred Uhrle, with the Veterans Affairs Clinic in Tafuna as well as US Interior Department field representative Lydia Faleafine-Nomura for their support and advice.

Holly Fuller — one of the two US Federal Emergency Agency (FEMA) representatives assigned to the territory — has been attending task force meetings. The local FEMA teams work with the task force and other agencies.

Trump’s approval was relayed to the governor by FEMA Regional 9 administrator, Robert J. Fenton, to whom Lolo said he relayed “my appreciation for the service [FEMA] is providing for our people.”

Lolo informed Fuller that Fenton is pleased “with the way we are connected with FEMA. And I told him you are doing a tremendous job, in providing the support that we desperately need.”

“Between FEMA and DOI, I think we are in good hands,” the governor said, adding that the task force, which includes Secretary of Samoan Affairs Mauga T. Asuega, “deserve the credit for a job well-done” with the president’s declaration.

He said Fenton “promised a lot of help coming our way, as long as we connect with Holly [Fuller] and the FEMA group down here, then anything we can ask for, they will take it very seriously.”

According to the governor, he also discussed with Fenton medical supply needs for American Samoa in which the DoH and LBJ will work on with the local FEMA officials.

Lolo said the Presidential declaration, “means of a lot of things” for American Samoa. “What I always wanted to do was to find the right time and the right place for our territory” to submit its declaration request, he said. “And I think our action was well considered and was well planned.”

He said Trump and US Vice President Mike Pence, who is also the federal COVID-19 Task Force chairman “took time to recognize that we have submitted our emergency declaration.” And he again expressed appreciation to the task force.

“So I’m comfortable of where we are heading with anything relating to the coronavirus” which will seriously be considered for American Samoa by the feds, he said.

There have been questions raised as to what American Samoa will receive under the presidential declaration.

As reported by Samoa News, FEMA announced in a brief news release in April that under the presidential declaration, federal funding is available to territorial and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures (Category B), including direct federal assistance under Public Assistance, for all areas affected by COVID-19 at a federal cost share of 75% (which means ASG cost-share is 25%).