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ODAPM director updates feds on Am Samoa’s disaster mitigation actions

Lisa Tuato’o (far left) with other officials who attended the FEMA Mitigation Framework Leadership Group (MitFLG) meeting
reporters@samoanews.com

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — One of the important topics of discussion at last week’s US Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Mitigation Framework Leadership Group (MitFLG) meeting for the first quarter of 2023, was building codes.

At the meeting held at FEMA headquarters in Washington D.C., the Office of Disaster Assistance and Petroleum Management (ODAPM) director, Lisa Tuato’o provided information that ODAPM applied for funds to upgrade building codes and received money from FEMA.

The procurement process has been completed and a contractor has been selected to conduct this project, according to a news release from the Governor’s Office. Additionally, the building survey schedule of values of government facilities project is ongoing and almost completed.

Samoa News notes that an ASG team, which is led by ODAPM, has been conducting a survey of government facilities and assets since last year. Last week, the team visited Fagali’i Elementary School and Alataua II Elementary.

According to the Governor’s Office, the last time the building survey was conducted in American Samoa was in 2004 and ODAPM took the lead in 2021, applied for federal money and was successfully awarded funds by the U.S. Department of Interior Office of Insular Areas Technical Assistance Program for this project.

Tuato’o also shared at the meeting the great news of the approval of the American Samoa Watershed Plan, which is available on ODAPM’s website (www.odapm.as.gov). She credits the interagency collaboration of local and federal partners for this milestone accomplishment.

As previously reported by Samoa News, officials of the U.S Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Honolulu District late last month presented to acting governor Talauega E.V. Ale and ASG officials, the American Samoa Final Post Disaster Watershed Plan, following Tropical Cyclone Gita in 2018. The plan was also shared with the Senate Public Works Committee during a hearing.

USACE officials informed the committee that this is a post disaster study looking at all water resources and the study provides strategic recommendations for the next 50 years, relating to those water resources. (See Samoa News edition Jan. 30 for details.)

During the MitFLG meeting, Tuato’o extended an invitation to all members to attend the upcoming Second Amerika Samoa Annual Disaster Resilience Summit in the territory in September this year.

The first summit was held last September, with various presentations by local and federal partners. ODPAM’s website has documents and presentations from the summit.

Tuato’o sits on the FEMA MitFLG as a State Local Tribal Territorial (SLTT) member. The meeting’s objective was to “discuss mitigation and resilience opportunities identified by the White House, including priorities from the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission.”

More than 60 federal, SLTT and other unique participants actively engaged in the four hour meeting that included in-person and virtual attendance. An opportunity was afforded to MitFLG members to share info on their mitigation and resilience-focused initiatives and priorities for 2023.  (Details of the MitFLG online at: www.fema.gov)

The Governor’s Office news release said that: “In person meetings yield more advantages for the Territory by way of networking and utilizing the contributions of available resources for the overall good of the people of American Samoa.”

Gov. Lemanu P. S. Mauga is leading a large ASG delegation including cabinet directors, attending several meetings with various federal agencies in Washington D.C. And the delegation has been issuing press releases from these meetings through the Governor’s Office.