Struggle continues on American Samoa (report from my cousin)

And the struggle looks to continue for a long time. Cousin Tim and wife Michelle have been connecting with family by e-mail since the tsunami, but they just got enough electricity to blog late this week. From Tim:


“A women saw the water surging through her village, crushing houses instantly, her house is barely habitable. Yet, she has the only running toilet in her village, where everyone must come and do their business. … Valium 5mg by mouth before bed, being handed out by the hospital to help an island avoid the nightmares. … An old man tells me that he was sipping tea as they waves poured through his house, laughing because he had Jesus in his heart.” Read his full report here.

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.

Relatives in American Samoa okay

A couple people have asked how my relatives in America Samoa — mentioned in this blog previously and linked in the blogroll at left — are after the tsunami there. Cousin Tim and wife Michelle are both okay. Tim’s visiting stateside and headed to the Fedex U2 show tonight (as am I), and Michelle’s checked in to report things are okay in Pago Pago. News reports indicate the city has only minor damage along the coast, but things are worse elsewhere on the island.

Update from the AP early Wednesday: “In American Samoa’s capital of Pago Pago, the streets and fields were filled with ocean debris, mud, overturned cars and several boats as a massive cleanup effort continued into the night. Several buildings in the city — just a few feet above sea level — were flattened by either the quake or the tsunami.”

Cousin Tim’s American Samoa blog

New in the blogroll: After a brief run last summer, the blog adventures of cousin Tim and wife Michelle in American Samoa have revived, with Tim beginning a new stage of his medical work there.

Our 2 bedroom pad is perched over Pago Pago harbor, with excellent views of the forested mountains & tranquil waters below. Songbirds fill the background over the distant hums of the tuna cannery down the only road. Fruit bats fly overhead as the busy harbor sleeps once again. Anytime you move you feel a sense of freedom & of the possibilities that may lie ahead…