Samoa Tsunami Hits Hard on Pacific Islands

The devastating 2009 tsunami that kills over a hundred and leaves thousand homeless

On September 29, 2009, the Samoa tsunami hit American Samoa, Samoa, and Tonga, causing destruction and a death toll of 189. The tsunami was generated by a magnitude 8.0 earthquake, the largest earthquake so far in 2009. Within three minutes after the earthquake, the tsunami hit the three islands, leaving towns flooded and 3,000 homeless.

In American Samoa four 15 to 20 feet high waves were recorded by the national park of American Samoa. Entire beach villages were destroyed as the water flowed 100 yards inland. Pago Pago, the largest city in American Samoa, was severely affected by the tsunami, leaving roads flooded, businesses ruined and cars overturned.

Samoa’s capital city of Apia was evacuated and twenty villages were destroyed. Tonga’s island of  Niuatoputapu had been hit by 13 feet high waves, which destroyed 90 percent of its homes.

“The president tonight declared a major disaster exists in the territory of American Samoa and ordered federal aid to supplement territory and local recovery efforts in the area struck by an earthquake, tsunami and flooding.” Said the White House on the situation.

The United States, New Zealand, and Australia, are all sending assistance to the island in one way or another. The Royal New Zealand Air Force, Orion, has been sent to help in finding survivors, and the United States has sent emergency workers and relief supplies to the area.

The American Red Cross started their relief program, by distributing tents, portable toilets, cooking kits, tarps, cots, work gloves, and flashlights. The World Health Organization and UN agencies are working with the Samoan government to work on reconstruction and ensure that there are no disease outbreaks.

Sewer systems were destroyed, houses shred to pieces, cars turned over, and hospitals and schools torn down all over the three islands, with an estimated repair cost of $150 million. Villages were flattened and people were swept out to sea, leaving many dead and more missing.

Numerous heartbreaking stories are heard regularly now by the survivors of the Samoa Tsunami on how they lost their children and their belongings. One mother was seen to be picking up her daughter from school when the water came in and sucked her daughter out to sea. When the mother was asked what happened, all she could say was that her daughter was pleading and then her daughter was gone.

The Samoa tsunami affected everyone; including NFL football players Jonathan Fanene,Rey Maualuga, and  Domata Peko, who had ties back in American Samoa. All three players were trying desperately to call relatives in American Samoa and finally got through to ensure their families were ok.

The recent Samoa tsunami has brought up memories from the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. Although the Samoa tsunami caused an overwhelming amount of destruction, luckily, it was not as devastating as the Indian Ocean Tsunami that killed 283,100 people in 15 different countries and caused millions of dollars worth of destruction. Because of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami catastrophe, authorities and world leaders were more prepared and aware on how to handle the situation this time around.

Thankfully, food supplies and water have been given to residents in need, and hopefully, the neighborhoods and houses can be rebuilt in order to help the Samoa tsunami survivors whose towns have been destroyed.