National Guard, FEMA Helping Samoan Victims

By: From 13 News
By: From 13 News

HAWAII -- 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, according to Gerry Gilmore of the American Forces Press Service.

Support requested by American Samoa authorities includes power-generation equipment, medical supplies, food, water and shelter-support, including bedding and blankets, said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman.

"We'll continue to do that for some time," Whitman said, 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 on Tuesday caused devastating 15-to-20-foot-high waves across the South Pacific. The deadly tsunami struck the eastern side of American Samoa.

FEMA maintains well-stocked supply warehouses in Guam and Hawaii and quickly aided American Samoa by providing medical supplies, water and food, to support more than 70,000 survivors.

Two C-17 Globemaster III cargo planes departed Hawaii Thursday on 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 carrying medical, search-and-rescue, and communications personnel, as well as supplies and equipment.

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell yesterday in a televised press conference 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. 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."

Meanwhile, U.S. military personnel also are assisting relief efforts in the Philippines, which has experienced massive flooding.

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