Objective: An 8.3 magnitude earthquake followed by tsunami waves devastated American Samoa on September 29, 2009, resulting in widespread loss of property and public services. An initial and a follow-up Community Needs Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) objectively quantified disaster-affected population needs.
Methods: Using a 2-stage cluster sampling method of CASPER, a household questionnaire eliciting information about medical and basic needs, illnesses, and injuries was administered. To assess response efforts, percent changes in basic and medical needs, illnesses, and injuries between the initial and follow-up CASPER were calculated.
Results: During the initial CASPER (N = 212 households), 47.6% and 51.6% of households reported needing a tarpaulin and having no electricity, respectively. The self-reported greatest needs were water (27.8%) and financial help with cleanup (25.5%). The follow-up CASPER (N = 207 households) identified increased vector problems compared to pre-tsunami, and food (26%) was identified as the self-reported greatest need. As compared to the initial CASPER, the follow-up CASPER observed decreases in electricity (−78.3%), drinking water (−44.4%), and clothing (−26.6%).
Conclusion: This study highlights the use of CASPER during the response and recovery phases following a disaster. The initial CASPER identified basic needs immediately after the earthquake, whereas the follow-up CASPER assessed effectiveness of relief efforts and identified ongoing community needs.
(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2012;6:209–216)