Friday, December 21, 2012

Cyclone Evan After the Storm

Cyclone Evan After the Storm
Cyclone Evan hit on Thursday the 13th of December and hugged our area throughout the night as it moved slowly away.  The house shook, the sirens kept going off, and all around trees were falling down.  I stood by our window watching as huge beautiful trees became uprooted, while others snapped in half, and roofs just blew off houses.
The next day, I was told it was too unsafe for me to go out as without a radio no one knew if the storn was over because of the constant heavy downpour and strong winds.…so just my camera did and brought back incredible news on what the rest of the city was like.  Flooding was a huge concern for most of town.  I saw that not only were roofs blown off, but in some cases the roofs collapsed on the house, leaving only a roof.  One of the bridges in Lelata (or Faatoia..I am told it is in both villages by different people) cracked on the concrete leaving a huge bend on the bridge and making it impassable.  Cargo crates were washed onto the road to further block traffic.  The beautiful Pulu trees came crashing down on the main road.  Some boats were swept away and the rivers were strong.
We were able to make a fire to cook our canned food, which was a plus, because sometimes you just get sick of easting crackers with peanut butter, crackers with tuna, cereal…and well…that’s about it.
When my friend Kyle dropped by, as he wanted to say goodbye as he thought his flight back to America would leave that night, he recounted for me about his tale of the storm living several feet away from the ocean, however, feeling safe as there were no trees around to come crashing down on him.
I decided to join Kyle on a walk to the airline office to check on his flight.  After walking carefully under fallen power lines, and walking out of my way to avoid other lines, I smiled as so many trees were cut up to make the road passible because of my wonderful neighbors.
Walking around you see so many animals, especially dogs looking disheveled.  No longer do you fear that they are going to bite you, as you feel bad for what they had just endured, because unlike you, they were unable to seek shelter since they are not palagi dogs, and have no home to go inside to.
When we finally reached the main road, I was in shock.  Everything looked so different in this new light.  Seeing the destruction first hand of what I was recently seeing in photographs was just incredible.  It honestly reminded me of the tsunami damage, only I knew that the damage was not confided to a small area in Samoa, and had plagued the entire country.  It was a little eerie walking around, as we have become used to taxis being all around and busses zooming past blasting music, but today there was none.  The streets were empty of almost all vehicles except people.
It was so horrific to see what some had to endure during the storm as water levels went high into their houses.  Most Samoans don’t own much in terms of furniture, and most things are left ground level, so I could only image how bad their total loss could be.
We trudged through mud that was almost to my knees, walked in brown water that was almost to my waste as the rain came and went, heavy at times.  I will never forget this sole who found a big piece of Styrofoam and was using it as a boat with a stick as an oar.  He offered us rides on his “taxi”.    When we finally arrived at the airline office, there was a sign saying the flight was still on, so I decided to walk with Kyle to where the other Peace Corps volunteers were evacuated to, as some of them had planned on ending their two years of service that night.
When we arrived, we learned that still one of the volunteers was not accounted for, as telephone service was down in many rural areas.  However, they went to go and find her and bring her back to town.  I was told she arrived later that evening after I had already left…but somehow a strange rumor had leaked onto the internet before they had tracked her down.  There was a rumor on twitter and some other website that one Peace Corps Volunteer had passed away during the storm.  Apparently someone in her village had informed another that they hadn’t seen her, and rumor quickly spread that she had died.  Luckily, this was all a rumor and she and her cat are as healthy as can be.
While visiting the other volunteers who were stuck at their hotel due to flooding all around them, I had heard that the cyclone was coming back.  They had announced on the radio to be ready for round two.  I rushed home as fast as I could through the rain and mud, but thankfully the storm never came and I was safe at home.
Car  came inside house

destroyed house

Destroyed house and destroyed cars

Destroyed house

Expanding river during the storm

The river enters the gate to go inside a home


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