Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The last time I blogged, I was sitting at Motootua waiting for the sirens to stop so i could go back to Relle's place.
But the sirens never stopped - Cherelle, Paul and I went to kua.
I bragged about Poutasi and its picturesque beauty last week, but what we found was a village destroyed, homes thrown to the forest behind the village and most tragically, our family friend and the gorgeous Tui has passed on.
I don't know how what to say here, this is so tragic, sad, unfair, wrong.
Only last week, we were wishing we were living on that same beachfront, and hanging out with the aumaga.
As we walked through, I found pictures, framed photos, bibles strewn on the ground.
I gathered whatever photos I could get, including one of Tui as a young woman.
This is hard to 'accept'.
I don't want to believe but everyone we talked to were here when it happened.
We left the Poutasi area just as Lale and his medics team arrived, just standing around because those who managed to escape were fine, those who didn't have died.
One family have lost three young children, a granma is missing and as I look at the hollow remains of Joe and Tui's house, I felt physically hurt for them, their loved ones.
This is too much to bear.
Tuataga and Tui have been the strength of this village and neighbouring itumalo.
Her passing is felt by everyone we met on the road.
Pua, Joe's trusted family member was directing the boys to gather what is left strewn around because the looters were abound. Whatever, i thought, who was stupid enough to steal from their own kinspeople?
But as we were walking through, something else occured to me, the men walking alongside us were 'scavenging', walking into broken homes, ...TAKING things.
Heartless pigs, I hated them for their stupidity and inconsideration.
But what could we do?
This is not a daily occurence.
This is tragic, unexpectedly.
I walked among the exposed foundations of homes, towards the back of the village, where the debris was piled, I find a wheelchair. This belongs to the old lady. I found more pictures, shattered glass, people smiling, happy, cheerful even. Three children in matching red aloha shirts.
What a far cry from now.
I watch fish from the ocean lying about the plantation, some still swimming in the puddles. A dead eel, uprooted coral stuck among pandanus trees.
A carcass of a cow.
Another bible. A work boot. Trophy. Shoe. Roof of a fale kele.
The church pews, tables, rocks, all chucked towards the pulpit.
Where is God in all this?
I took photos, from the same position as last week, except, there are no smiling faces, no lush gardens and colourful boats moored by the stream.
This is hollow remains, a ghost village stripped of its ...life.
We left as people as families gathers near uprooted trees, some still searching for loved ones.
The hotel rooms of Salani Surf resort, further down the road were chucked across the river. Seabreeze Resort is gone. Lauofo Meti's houses are gone. Family homes are gone.
Lepa is flat.
We see a car wheel upturned in the ocean.
Is it empty? Is someone in there?
Most Police arrive.
Another pick up passes, two bodies wrapped in fala lilii.
Manuia lau malaga le lagi.
As we crawl towards Lalomanu - the beach fales don't exist here no more.
Tourists walk about stunned, some searching for missing friends, some embracing.
The families of Lalomanu are still digging through the rubble, but for most, they just stood there, watching. Stunned? Shocked.
Where is sanity in all this?
Further uphill, the meeting point is crowded with people.
The tourists are registered. The locals are serving food, their grief is forgotten as they serve food and drinks to the displaced. The children are crying. The dead are lined up and heaved onto pick ups. This is not normal.
This is not normal, but I forget this because I have seen so much death.
A woman cries for her 3 year old and this pain me so much.
Nothing can comfort her.
I wish I could take some of her pain. But that won't bring her baby back.
Her cries will stay with me.
This is beyond anything Ive ever seen, the two cyclones seem like a breeze,. this is devastating.
As more and more cars pass by with bodies, my heart breaks for them, for those left behind, for their mothers, brothers, fathers and children.
Imagine waking up one morning, to find everyone dead and you have Nothing left.
This is reality for so many in the South of Upolu.
May they find some reprieve in this life.
There are many ways to help: Red Cross (rescue and immediate assistance), SUNGO (for civil societies, ngos mobilised to help the surviving villagers in rebuilding), TVNZ have links to bank details, theres a Telethon happening in Apia on radio at the moment, or whoever is travelling to Samoa soon, please take what you can - clothes, bed linen(not necesarily blankets), towels, canned food, books, pens, school bags, shoes, panadol,...any useful medicine, toys for the children, anything you have will be appreciated.
alofa atu and please spare a thought for those less fortunate,