Friday, April 1, 2011

The Day of the Tsunami

The day of the Tsunami

(Sorry for everything being a few weeks late…..)

During the night we were all glued to the television.  I didn’t have my cell phone to give me all of the security updates from our Peace Corps office, so I had to keep myself well informed since the following day I was heading downhill, closer to the ocean for a meeting.  The television kept replaying the horrible images over and over again saying it was coming this way.  Naturally I was nervous.  Finally I decided it was time to give up and go to sleep, since nothing was going to happen until the morning. 

However, like I said we had a meeting, and this meeting was over an hour’s drive away (well depending on who was driving).  So we had to leave out house at 5:30 in the morning-Prime time for the tsunami to come.  Right before leaving I had turned on the news and it said it was not bad in Hawaii, but no one knew how it would be here.  After traveling along the coast of the south side of Savaii, I began to look for tsunami signs.  The water wasn’t retracting into the ocean, which was a big relief, especially when we were driving right next to it.  The only thing I noticed were horrible waves, which made me happy to not be out on the ocean.

We sat at our desks waiting for the meeting to start, while the weather began to change.  A rain storm had begun.  It was not bad, especially since we are used to getting rain daily, but the wind that came with it was probably the worst I have experienced since arriving in Samoa.  It was so strong that everything was blowing over with papers flying everywhere.

The whispering began to start.  When a tsunami is about to come, the winds come.  Since the winds were extremely strong it must mean the tsunami is going to hit us soon.  Some people thought of running out of the presentation and driving off in their cars, although they thought of it, and whispered about it, no one moved too far.

When nothing happened, we all breathed a sigh of relief, but it didn’t seem like our presenters even knew what was going on in our heads. 

That afternoon I picked up my telephone which I had left in the bustling city of Salelologa.  I read though all of the warning texts and was happy that nothing happened; since I broke the rules are went towards to water during a warning. 

Later, I realized that there was one village that was affected during the tsunami, and I heard a house collapsed because of it.  Someone else took pictures of the receding waters, which I saw in the paper. 

It was amazing to me how this was happening right under my nose, and was not aware of it because of work.  It feels like the priorities here are family, then work, then taking care of yourself.  Even with the warning system in place here, and the disaster Samoa had last year, it seems like not everyone is ready if another tsunami were to hit.

It was horrible to see the extent of damage the tsunamis and earthquakes had on Japan.  But, the one positive note is that all of the JICA’s (Japanese volunteers) family members are safe.  There is also a RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) working in Japan, and although she said the earthquakes continue to be bad, she is safe, and content on staying in Japan. 

I hope that all of the trouble over there is over soon.


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