President Mori meets with FEMA Regional Administrator
Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services): October 1, 2010 - On September 28, President Mori met with Nancy Ward, Regional Administrator of FEMA Region IX, to discuss the newly established relationship between FEMA and USAID in the FSM. Ward was accompanied by Ambassador Prahar and Deputy Chief of Mission Lori Peterson Dando, of the US Embassy Kolonia; Bart Deemer, Disaster Assistance Coordinator with USAID; Colby Stanton, Director of Pacific Area Office of FEMA Region IX, and Kevin Clark, Emergency Analyst of FEMA Region IX.
USAID has not had direct disaster assistance involvement in FSM in the past, but has indirectly been involved in capacity building of disaster personnel in the RMI/FSM region through the Asian Foundation which has been receiving USAID funding for this activity. Deemer was appointed to the RMI/FSM region following the transition of US disaster assistance to the FSM, from FEMA to USAID, in November 2008. Ward explained that moving forward, FEMA will be providing financial support to USAID activities in FSM, to ensure maximum efficiency in case of the occurrence of a natural disaster event which requires an emergency response.
Ward added that USAID will be responsible for organizing seminars to address pre-event and post-event emergency preparedness. She informed President Mori that a joint task force composed of USAID, FEMA and US Homeland Defense, in conjunction with FSM national and state governments, is planning a Tabletop Exercise on October 18-19, 2010, to test the current "Operational Blueprint" for disaster assistance to the FSM. Ward encouraged national and state leaders to participate in the Leaders Segment of that Tabletop Exercise. The seminar will focus heavily on recovery and restoration activities post-disaster, spotlighting how to "build back better."
USAID will also be building warehouses locally in FSM, to ensure availability of necessary materials and equipment to respond effectively to a disaster event. One such warehouse has already been built in Sokehs, where response supplies will soon be stockpiled.
Ambassador Prahar of the US Embassy in FSM stressed he was very pleased to see that USAID was able to implement their project of having a presence in FSM. "There is no substitute for being on the ground," said Prahar.
Mori thanked Ward and FEMA for disaster-relief assistance they have provided to FSM in the past, and said he was glad for the opportunity to discuss ways in which such services can be improved in the region. Mori stressed the importance of also ensuring that proper accountability reporting is performed post-disaster; Ward responded that USAID is qualified to oversee those proceedings.
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