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October 5, 2009 at 3:41 PM

Samoan Tsunami Relief Efforts

As many of you know, a tsunami devastated American Samoa last week, leaving at least 176 people dead and several thousand others wounded and trapped. I'm posting this to ask our readers to donate to help the victims in Samoa. Donations can be made at the Red Cross website or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS. Below is a press release giving the latest details.

Washington, D.C. -- Congressman Eni Faleomavaega announced today that he has been in close contact with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the House Committee on Standards regarding donations for tsunami relief efforts.

“As we make our way through this terrible tragedy, the U.S. House of Representatives and the House Committee on Standards has provided my office with a set of rules that we must follow regarding donations,” Faleomavaega said.

“First and foremost, Congressional offices cannot accept donations of any kind for distribution. However, Congressional offices can post links from their official websites to FEMA and non-profit organizations that are working to assist American Samoa. Congressional offices cannot post links to donation pages but we can post links to the home pages of these organizations.”

“Upon the recommendation of FEMA, my office has posted a link at
www.house.gov/faleomavaega for the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster which has a list of some 40 organizations which have been fully vetted by FEMA which means these organizations are trustworthy sources to accept donations to assist the people of American Samoa and our cousins in Samoa.”

“My office will also be working to get an updated list of local charities in American Samoa and Samoa, including affected villages that may have non-profits set up to receive donations.”

“Additionally, FEMA has asked that my office inform the public not to send food, clothing, or other supplies right now. Right now, we are still in the response stage and, next week, when we move to the recovery stage, FEMA will let us know what supplies are most needed and FEMA has assured my office that it will then work with us to make space available on planes, ships, etc to assist local community organizations with getting their supplies to American Samoa.”

“On behalf of the people of American Samoa, I thank all those who have come together so quickly to help us, especially our Samoan communities throughout the U.S., our Samoan cadets at Wentworth Military Academy, and the NFL which made a major announcement today to fully support our recovery efforts.”

“Three former BYU players, including Vai Sikahema (former Cardinal), Reno Mahe (former Eagle), and Gabe Reid (former Bear), and former Washington State player, Jack Thompson (former Bengal & Buccaneer), are spearheading the effort, and I just want to thank them and the rest of our former and current NFL players for reaching out to FEMA to keep attention focused on our need for assistance. Earlier today, I participated in a conference call with FEMA and the NFL.”

In follow-up conversations with my office, Vai Sikehema stated, “As current and former players, we're pulling together our resources to help our countryman. We've gathered a group of former players to travel home to assist in the relief effort, even if it’s simply to rally morale, and we are grateful to FEMA, the Red Cross and Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL for their efforts and reaching out to help and bless our people."

“I’ve informed Vai that we stand by to welcome and receive our NFL friends and truly appreciate what they are doing to keep attention focused on our needs. It is very important that we keep the media focused on this disaster since as fellow Americans we are in need of our nation’s support. Even though our fatalities do not number those like in Indonesia and other countries who have suffered massive losses, for the size of our population of only about 60,000, the destruction in the U.S. Territory of American Samoa is overwhelming for us. Our way back will be long and hard, but we are hopeful that our fellow Americans and friends from around the world will continue to be there for us until we fully recover from this devastating tsunami,” Faleomavaega concluded.