Disaster Status Sought for American Samoa After Hurricane
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (AP) _ The government of this U.S. territory asked President Bush to declare it a federal disaster area after Hurricane Ofa devastated the Pacific island chain.
In a letter Tuesday, Territorial Gov. Peter Tali Coleman asked for money to help the territory rebuild and recover from the hurricane, which passed near the six islands with sustained winds of 132 mph and gusts of more than 150 mph over the weekend.
Crops, roads, utilities, businesses and residences were damage, Coleman said. Damage could be as high as $100 million, officials said.
The territory currently is under an austerity plan to reduce its $12 million deficit.
″I have determined that this disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the teritorial government,″ Coleman wrote.
The worst damage was reported in Western Samoa and Niue, about 450 miles south of Pago Pago. The Australian Associated Press said three people were killed in Western Samoa, declared a disaster area Sunday.
Power and water have been restored to some parts of Pago Pago, but about two-thirds of the 38,000 residents still were without power and water Tuesday, said Joyita Viena of Lt. Gov. Galeia Poumele’s office.
Fewer than 20 people in American Samoa received minor injuries in the storm.
″We were very, very lucky the hurricane wasn’t any closer,″ said Bob Blauvelt, chief engineer for government television station KVZK.