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Contract awarded to replace homes destroyed in American Samoa

 PAGO PAGO, American Samoa – The federal government has awarded a $7 million construction contract for the replacement of 33 homes destroyed in last year’s deadly earthquake and tsunami in American Samoa.

   The contract went to Fletcher Construction of New Zealand, a company that has done business in the U.S. territory for nearly 30 years and has worked with FEMA in the past.

   A magnitude-8.0 earthquake on Sept. 29, 2009, generated tsunami waves up to 40 feet that quickly swept through the region, killing 194 people, including 34 in American Samoa.

   FEMA spent nearly $4 million in the first phase of the replacement process, which involved the construction of eight homes and site preparations for 10 more. The second phase of construction, to replace the rest of the homes that were destroyed, is expected to take about 10 months.

   “The awarding of this contract brings us another step further in helping the people of American Samoa get back on their feet,” said Nancy Ward, administrator of Oakland, Calif.-based FEMA Region IX, which oversees and coordinates federal relief efforts in the U.S. territory.

   Kim Waltz, FEMA’s Region IX spokeswoman, said in an e-mail that the per-home costs in the second phase would be considerably lower than the costs in the first phase, which was handled by the U.S. firm Partnership for Temporary Housing.

   The biggest challenge in the first phase was the distance of American Samoa from the nearest U.S. jurisdiction. The territory is located in the South Pacific, about 2,300 miles south of Hawaii.

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