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American Samoa Relief Efforts Continue

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 2, 2009 – The medical support situation in American Samoa has stabilized amid ongoing U.S. relief efforts after a massive tsunami devastated the area this week, a Defense Department official said today.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kimo McKee, Hawaii Air National Guard loadmaster, directs the loading of humanitarian aid supplies into a C-17 Globemaster III bound for American Samoa to assist in relief efforts in the wake of tsunamis triggered by Sept. 29, 2009, undersea earthquake. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mike Meares
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Medical triage, casualty care, shelter and bedding are being administered to those affected by the disaster, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters.

“It does appear as if the situation is stabilizing a bit -- at least the medical support situation has stabilized,” he said. “The hospital there is open, [and] the [Veterans Affairs] clinic on the island has been providing some additional assistance in the treatment of injured there.”

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.

Three C-17 Globemaster III cargo planes flew from Hawaii to deliver personnel from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, food and water, and mortuary-affairs assets. A fourth flight is expected to arrive soon, and two other C-17 flights are being coordinated, Whitman said.

“It’s the very basic types of things that you need when people are all of a sudden without any shelter and all of a sudden need assistance with the basic necessities,” Whitman said. “Food, personal hygiene items, that type of [assistance].”

Meanwhile, the Army Corps of Engineers and subject-matter experts are working on power regeneration and handling issues related to debris and waste water.

The request for Defense Department assistance in providing medical triage, hazardous material response, mass casualty care and strategic airlift came from FEMA.

FEMA maintains well-stocked warehouses in Guam and Honolulu and is deploying resources to support 70,000 survivors in American Samoa survivors over the coming week.

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