5 Oct 2009

American Samoa damage 'the worst I've ever seen'

10:09 pm on 5 October 2009

An insurance expert who has seen other natural disasters says the tsunami damage in American Samoa is the worst he's ever seen.

Waves of up to six metres devastated coastal areas of the United States territory last Wednesday, killing at least 32 people. Two others are still missing.

By Monday, power and water had been restored to more than 90% of the island, and Greg Duffy of Progressive Insurance Pago Pago says he's been impressed with the clean-up efforts.

But he says that those living in undeveloped areas won't have had insurance and that many people still need food, clothing and shelter.

The island's Emergency Operation Centre says that all of the displaced people are now in shelters or other accommodation.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says its focus now is on giving assistance to individual households. The agency says there is no cookie-cutter solution, as every household in American Samoa has had its own disaster.

Most schools set to reopen

All but five elementary schools were set to reopen on Monday after high schools and elementary schools were closed because of the tsunami.

Education Department director Claire Tuia Poumele says one elementary school, in the shoreline village of Poloa, was completely destroyed and students would be taken in by a nearby school.

Meanwhile, village mayors have been asked to strictly enforce curfews to try to control looting, particularly in Pago Pago, the hardest hit place in the territory.

Homeland Security says police and emergency services need to be able to concentrate on their regular work and not be diverted to hunting criminals.