[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/09/30/samoa.tsunami.witness/art.redtruck.afp.gi.jpg caption="Debris clutters a road in Pago Pago, American Samoa, after a devastating earthquake and tsunami last month."]
Drew Griffin | BIO
CNN Investigative Correspondent
It’s New Orleans all over again. Just 2,600 miles south of Hawaii, so nobody is noticing.
American Samoa IS an American territory, but in some parts, it looked to me like the third world. Children rummaging through broken scraps of what once was a house, a woman making the family meal on an outside counter made from a broken door. A three- year-old, yes just three, walking barefoot through a debris field filled with nails. And where was any sign of government help? Nowhere.
After a devastating tsunami rocked the territory on September 29th, we got a tip by email.
The email told us American Samoa had a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to build a tsunami warning siren system. The system was never built. Thirty-four people died. And it's now the subject of an FBI investigation.
But the trip also uncovered much more: American Samoa’s government has been unresponsive to the needs of its hardest-hit villages. Billions of dollars in U.S. government handouts to this island show little to no signs of doing any good, and despite all the money taxpayers send here, very few federal officials have bothered to find out where it has been spent.
You will see the first of our reports tonight. When you watch, ask yourself what I kept asking: is this really America?
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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