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Homeland Security

Samoa relief winds down; efforts continue elsewhere

by Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

10/5/2009 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- As the U.S. military continues to provide assistance to victims of storms and earthquakes in the Philippines and Indonesia, tsunami relief operations in American Samoa are tapering off, a Defense Department spokesman said here Oct. 5.

The humanitarian-relief operation in American Samoa "is essentially winding down," Bryan Whitman told reporters. The U.S. territory in the Pacific Ocean was hit by an earthquake-caused tsunami Sept. 29.

Eleven C-17 Globemaster III missions provided nearly 700,000 pounds of supplies, blankets, electricity generators, vehicles and other help to American Samoans, Mr. Whitman said. A 14-member civil-support team from the Hawaii National Guard remains in American Samoa to assist authorities with hazardous material removal and damage assessments, he added.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military continues to provide help to people in the Philippines and Indonesia, Mr. Whitman said.

Typhoon Parma hit Luzon Island in the Philippines on Oct. 3, nearly a week after Typhoon Ketsana struck the Philippine capital of Manila. Indonesians are reeling from the impact of an earthquake that hit Sumatra late last month.

This weekend in the Philippines, Mr. Whitman said, nearly 450 Marines and sailors posted in the Manila area delivered relief supplies, cleared roads, and provided basic medical care to residents. More than 8,000 food packages have been delivered, and more than 1,400 Philippine residents have received medical care.

The U.S. Navy ships USS Harpers Ferry and USS Tortuga also are in the Philippines to provide assistance, Mr. Whitman said.

In Indonesia, Mr. Whitman said, a 20-person U.S. humanitarian assistance survey team arrived Oct. 3, while the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the USS Denver is on station to provide helicopter airlift transport, communications and medical support. The USS McCampbell, he said, is slated to join the Denver in the Philippines to assist humanitarian relief efforts there.

A 70-member Air Force humanitarian assistance and rapid-response team is slated to arrive in Indonesia today, Mr. Whitman said.

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