Hawaii National Guard, FEMA Teams to Assist American Samoa
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, 2009 In response to Federal Emergency Management Agency requests, National Guard assets from Hawaii continue to provide air-cargo operations and other support to tsunami victims on American Samoa, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters here today.
Airmen from the 204th Airlift Wing of the Hawaii Air National Guard load a vehicle onto a C-17 Globemaster III Sept. 30, 2009 at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, in preparation for departure for a humanitarian mission in American Samoa. The island nation was devastated by an earthquake and Tsunami, Sept. 29, 2009. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jerome Tayborn
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Support requested by American Samoa authorities includes power-generation equipment, medical supplies, food, water and shelter-support, including bedding and blankets, Whitman said.
“We’ll continue to do that for some time,” Whitman told reporters, noting nearly 100 Hawaii National Guard personnel are involved in airlift and humanitarian-relief operations for American Samoa.
An 8.4 magnitude earthquake struck near the Samoa Islands region Sept. 29, causing devastating 15-to-20-foot-high waves to cascade inland across the South Pacific archipelago, including the eastern side of American Samoa, a U.S. possession.
FEMA, which maintains well-stocked warehouses in Guam and Honolulu, is deploying resources to American Samoa, including water and meals, to support 70,000 survivors over the coming week.
Two C-17 Globemaster III cargo planes departed Hawaii today en route to American Samoa with FEMA members, food and water, and mortuary-affairs assets aboard, Whitman said. Another C-17 is slated to leave Hawaii for American Samoa later today, he added, carrying more equipment and supplies.
The first of four C-17 relief flights to American Samoa left Hawaii yesterday afternoon, Whitman said, carrying medical, search-and-rescue, and communications personnel, as well as supplies and equipment.
Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell yesterday outlined some of the infrastructure for the effort.
"We are providing Travis Air Force Base in California, Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii [and] Andersen Air Force Base in Guam as base support installations," he said. "These are basically staging areas for operations to provide aid and assistance to those in American Samoa. We're going to be providing medical triage, [hazardous materials] response, mass-casualty care and strategic airlift. That's what the focus at the outset will be of our assistance."
The Navy yesterday dispatched the frigate USS Ingraham to assist humanitarian-relief efforts in American Samoa. The Ingraham was in the region when the tsunami struck.
U.S. military personnel also are assisting relief efforts in the Philippines, which has experienced massive flooding.