Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Samoa's disaster zone

I was incredulous when I turned on the TV this morning and saw Oliver Driver announcing that Samoa had been hit by an earthquake and a tsunami. Located securely in the middle of the Pacific, far from the unstable rim that brings so many quakes to Chile and Japan and the Hawkes Bay, Samoa is not a place where we expect the earth's crust to shake and crack. The earthquake which occurred last night off the American-controlled island of Tutuila was easily the most severe in living memory.

The tsunami seems to have thrown much of its force at the southeastern coast of Upolu. Upolu is the most populous island in the Samoan archipelago, but most of its people live on its northern coast, in and around the city of Apia. By comparison with the villages that cluster around Apia, the settlements in the east and south of the island feel isolated, and a little neglected.

The road which circumnavigates Upolu becomes potholed as it approaches Lalomanu, a village in the island's extreme southeast which boasts a couple of magnificent but rundown churches and a view of the bush-clad and almost uninhabited Aleipata Islands, which sit a few kilometres to the east, beside the path that ferries and cargo ships take to Tutuila. (New Zealand colonial administrators used Nu'utele, the largest island in the Aleipatas, as a dumping ground for lepers.)


This photo shows the coastline near Namua, the closest of the Aleipata islands to the coast, and perhaps gives some idea of the exposed nature of the extreme southeast of Upolu:


The coast is low-lying, dwellings sit across the road from the water, and the reef which can be seen behind Skyler is located only a short distance from the shore.

After Lalomanu, the road passes a series of surf beaches that face south across the open Pacific. Good beaches are relatively rare on Samoa, and several resorts have been constructed in this area. Eventually the stretches of sand turn to shallow bays and mangrove-fringed estuaries, and the resorts give way to villages like Poutasi and Safata. The cyclone which descended in 2004 hit these villages especially hard, and when Skyler and I visited them earlier this year we saw corrugated iron rooves lying in mangrove forests.

Samoa is very vulnerable to tsunamis, because an extraordinary number of its people live close to the coast. Archaeologists have found ruined villages and signs of ancient cultivations in the centre of Upolu, and oral history tells of people living inland to escape the Tongans who conquered coastal areas in the Middle Ages. With the advent of contact with European traders and missionaries, though, much of the population moved toward the coast. Today, only a handful of the villages in Samoa's two main islands are sited inland.

The relatively flimsy nature of many Samoan dwellings is also likely to have worsened the effects of the tsunami. In the villages that dot the southeastern coast Western-style houses with four solid walls are much less common than traditional fale, which have thatched rooves and use mats or thatch for walls. The fale is well-suited to the hot and humid conditions of an equatorial country like Samoa, but it is not likely to offer much defence against giant waves.

As the death toll from the disaster in Samoa rises, the need for foreign aid becomes clear. New Zealand has a particular duty, and not only because of its huge Samoan population.

As every Samoan knows, New Zealand let Samoa down badly when the archipelago was visited by a previous natural calamity. In 1918 New Zealand administrators allowed the Spanish flu into the island on a ship that should been quarantined, and then refused to take the resulting epidemic seriously. A fifth of Samoans died as a result of the incompetence and racism of the Kiwi colonists. A generous response to today's calamity might help to balance memories of 1918.

27 Comments:

Anonymous Lisa said...

I pray that there are no more deaths. I thought the contestants of the show Survivor were in Samoa, I hope they are all safe.

4:08 pm  
Blogger Edward said...

been listening to it on the radio, what a tragedy. I can't even imagine. According the CNN America is sending federal aid, and as I understand it we're already over there. This is terrible. Indonesia was struck yesterday by a similar scale earthquake.

10:21 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"A generous response" to "balance" memories of the past sounds like blood money to me.

NZ has an ethical duty to help its Pasifik neighbours because they are human beings.

6:16 pm  
Anonymous george said...

I totally argee with anon, very well said

10:19 pm  
Blogger essay best said...

Its sad to listen about the Samoa's disaster, I did watched in the news. You might have visited and posted the effected zone. I just can pray for the victims and may God help them.

1:09 am  
Anonymous troubleshoot printer issues said...

Thank you so much for sharing this great post here!

1:02 am  
Blogger John Carter said...

Fix Printer Offline issue with easy steps in the article. Communicate with experts at Printer support to know more about How to fix printer offline issue? Call us now.

7:37 pm  
Blogger Allen Watson said...

Your issues of Samsung Printer Setup can now be easily resolved with a little amount of guidance that you can avail at just one click at www.samsung.com/printersetup

1:02 am  
Blogger Printer Offline Tech said...


You provide Useful information about Brother Printer can’t connect to wifi, which is one of the most common problems nowadays. Every day there are millions of people complaining about this kind of issue.

8:06 pm  
Blogger Aaron Jones said...

Nice Article. Thanks for providing this information. If You get Yahoo Email help then Visit

Yahoo Login Error
Update Yahoo Mail App
Yahoo Mail Issues

7:51 pm  
Anonymous Olivia Aaron said...

If you know more about the latest news, updates, and uses related to technology. Go to our website for more information -

Digiknowlogy
Snapchat dark mode
what is a decompression bomb

12:48 am  
Anonymous American Airlines Low Fare Calendar said...

Get an exciting offer by searching our website and Want to explore the world, but tight-budget kills those dream of traveling. Not anymore, jump over the hurdle name budget and touch the finish line where your traveling dream starts with our great discounts and deals on air-tickets at American Airlines Low Fare Calendar and If your travel dates rescheduled. You can check the full month fare and purchase the flight tickets on the most auspicious day.

8:25 pm  
Anonymous Lufthansa Airlines Low Fare Calendar said...

I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it.Leave all flight-related worries on Lufthansa Airlines and focus on the fun part of the journey. When you book with Lufthansa Airlines Low Fare Calendar and it, is one of the best things that is used by several passengers across the world to check their flights according to their budget requirements.

8:38 pm  
Blogger georgelurther said...

Want to know the step by step guide on how to fix a canon printer won't connect to wifi error? Then get connected with our experts. They will provide you the best solution within minimum time possible. To know more you can check out our website canon printer offline.

7:23 pm  
Blogger ebookhelpline said...

Do you want to know the best and quick way to reset a kindle fire? If yes then get connected with our experts. They will guide you in detail about how to reset a kindle fire in a very easy way. You can contact us anytime as we are open 24/7 and for more information visit our website kindle help guides.

5:00 pm  
Blogger Geremy said...

To be honest I found very helpful information your blog thanks for providing us such blog choose winning team

12:41 am  
Blogger allwritershub said...

There are numerous applications out there who are permitting the clients to empower the dim subject. Aside from the applications, there are sites, applications are giving the dim mode. Know how to get dark mode on Snapchat.

9:17 pm  
Blogger Sandra Drago said...

Hp printer and scan doctor one of the best ways where you can get technical service and resolve your Hp printer related issues within very short periods of time.

11:31 pm  
Blogger Harper Chelsea said...

Wow, such an awesome blog you have written there and you and I get exactly what information I am looking for, in the third paragraph you put amazing effort to explain the theme of the content. As a content writer, I can understand efforts because when students ask me for assignment help, I do the same.

7:23 pm  
Blogger HP Printer Assistant said...

Thanks for Sharing with us. Download and install the HP print and scan doctor on Windows 10 and Mac without any interruptions. Make sure you follow the instructions carefully to avoid errors.

11:52 pm  
Blogger HP Printer Assistant said...

Thanks for Sharing with us. Are you searching for a way to HP Printer error before printing then give us a visit to our website at Fix HP printer long delay before printing.Make sure that your cartridges are not running out of ink and the paper tray is not empty.

11:04 pm  
Blogger HP Printer Assistant said...

Thanks for Shearing with us. To troubleshoot the computer recognizes HP Printer Scan, you should follow each method given here carefully. First, check the connection.Download the HP Print and Scan from the download location on your computer. Once HP Print and Scan is open, click Start, and then choose your printer. If your printer is not listed, turn it on and Retry Check the visit our website.

12:06 am  
Blogger HP Printer Assistant said...

Thanks for Sharing with Us.If your Fix HP Printer Printing so Small? Need to fix it! Approach the solutions that we have mentioned below: Solution. Make sure it is set to 100%, or fit to page, or no scaling.Why Is My HP Printer Printing so small? | HP Assistant. If your scaling is correct, then you need to check your Printing Preferences.Then, click on the HP Printer Printing Small preferences link this will open up the Printer Preferences dialog box.

8:46 pm  
Anonymous majortotositepro said...

Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely believe that this website needs a lot more attention. I’ll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the advice! 토토

4:46 pm  
Anonymous racesiteinfo said...

You need to be a part of a contest for one of the finest websites on the net.
I’m going to recommend this web site! 온라인경마

4:47 pm  
Anonymous oncasinositeinfo said...

What’s up, just wanted to mention, I liked
this post. It was practical. Keep on posting! 바카라사이트

4:47 pm  
Anonymous totopickpro said...

Thank you so much for the post you do. I like your post and all you share with us is up to date and quite informative, i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job. 토토

4:48 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home