Report from family in post-tsunami American Samoa

While cousin Tim is stateside, his wife Michelle has updated their blog with an account of the earthquake and tsunami. The damage is worse in Pago Pago than initial reports indicated. Read Michelle’s full account.

As I was fiddling with the computer, I looked out of the window, and saw the first tidal wave heaving all the boats in the harbor to and fro, like so much dead twigs in a pond. That’s when I ran to the other window for a better view. It was a storm without the rain. A perfect sunny day, but with the damage of a hurricane. There were a series of waves that swept to and fro, and only later did I hear that the force was so strong that it literally sucked the water dry from the reef when it receded, and then smashed the water against the shore when it came back in. …

I drove through a landscape so unreal, so unlike the familiar, that it felt like I was driving on another land. There were so many cars that were stranded on the sides of the road, smashed up and beyond repair, that any Samoan who first looked upon them would probably end up sobbing. I counted 10 boats on people’s lawns, and finally stopped counting; it was just too depressing.

And here’s a blog post — titled “We’re okay for now” — from the fiancee of one of Tim’s colleagues at the Pago Pago hospital.

The main “city” (I use the term “city” very loosely here), Pago Pago, is just destroyed. I mean, we went to a small grocery store on Monday for a few things, and yesterday, that store was completely trashed. Everything destroyed. There are a lot of buildings that are just not *there* anymore–they were totally washed away. There are large boats lying upside down on the other side of tall buildings. No idea how they even got there. Smashed buses, wrecked cars flipped over, you name it. Rubble and thick dust everywhere. I don’t know what the news networks are showing back in the States, but it’s sort of like a managed chaos here, if that makes any sense. …

The earthquake itself hit a little before 7am Tuesday morning. It was intense, and it was *long*. I mean, it lasted a little over two minutes. If that doesn’t seem long to you, try looking down at your watch and saying, “go!” Then wait for 2 minutes + and imagine your house shaking, stuff falling, dishes and lamps rattling, etc. Then tell me that 2 minutes doesn’t seem very long. It was big.

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