On 30 September 2009 (NZ time), four powerful tsunamis, generated by an undersea 8.0 magnitude (Richter) earthquake, crashed into Western Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga destroying palm trees, beaches and coastal villages. The waves killed 189 people, 31 in American Samoa, 9 in Tonga and 149 in Western Samoa, including 7 New Zealanders.
The emergency relief stage is largely completed as of early November 2009, and the time for rebuilding has come. Assessments indicate that 425 traditional houses are needed in Samoa while 79 are needed in Tonga.
Rebuilding homes in Samoa
The Samoan Government has requested that 325 Fale be built over the next six months. A Fale is a traditional Samoan home with concrete floor, timber trusses and iron roof, supported by multiple poles. The Government has sanctioned that all rebuilt Fale will be one standard design, which is 7.2 metres long by 4.8 metres wide. One end will be a cyclone resistant hip roof, and the other end a gable roof so that this structure can be easily added onto and expanded in size later on by the family occupants. The roof will have strapping to make it cyclone resistant. There will be an outside ablution block with shower and flush toilet, and ideally a water tank for supply of rain water to be collected from the roof, for both purposes.
The proposal is to take Year 13 Construction class (12 students), plus two Staff to Samoa to assist with the rebuild of a Fale. This is planned for the last week of Term 2: 27th June – 11 July.
The project involves the wider school community and business groups to raise funds to pay for 1 Fale ($15,000) which we will erect while we are there.
Total cost to get students, staff and materials to Samoa will be in the vicinity of $30,000.
Who will we be helping
A Samoan family lost 14 of its members in the tsunami which devastated the country’s south coast in September last year.
The worst affected area, Lalomanu, which is on the south eastern coast of Upolu, a little over one hour’s drive from Apia, was hit by six metre waves.
The Taufua family who owns the Taufua Beach Fales on the coast, lost 14 family members by this tragedy. Sinafea Ale Taufua lost her three beautiful children. Jason Pelesasa aged 4 years, Gwenalyn Faaseya aged 3 and Edmund Junior aged 9 months. Sina and her husband Edmund Senior are currently in the process of rebuilding their home and business. They have no other forms of income and have applied for government aid but are still waiting for an answer.
It is the intention of the Year 13 Construction class to go to Samoa to help with the re-building of this family’s home and business.
Heta reports from Samoa
Over the school holidays I traveled to Samoa on a fact finding mission. I arrived at Faleolo airport on the 12th of April. I was met at the arrivals area by my host for the next four days Sina Taufua. Sina and her family live at Lalomanu, a small village on the eastern coast of Apulo Island.
Lalomanu is very beautiful with a million dollar view, however, the evidence of the tsunami is still very clear to see with debris strewn over parts of the beach and half way up the hill across the road. The Taufua family live in a small make-shift shelter consisting of a flat tin roof held up by four posts. They have just recently completed a temporary toilet and shower but the mains water has yet to be connected and they are relying on tank water which is trucked in. Transport of water is also very difficult to do as the family do not own a vehicle and must rely on hire vehicles when available.
It is clear to see that this family is in need of help. They are desperately tying to rebuild their business (Taufua Beach Fales before the tsunami) so that they can earn an income and start to rebuild their lives. After discussions with Edmund and Sina, it has been decided that the St Paul’s Collegiate School Year 13 Construction class will finance and build one enclosed Fale during their visit in June.
It was not hard to see that the local infrastructure is still struggling to cope with the scale of the rebuilding program. There is huge demand on building materials and there are many building sites left vacant because of the shortage. In order for St Paul’s to complete the task it has set, without any hold ups, it will be necessary to bring everything it needs from New Zealand.
The Project Team are hoping to buy a container to ship materials, which can then be left behind for the local community to use. The Team also plan to visit the local primary school while they are in Samoa and donate sporting equipment and books for them to use.