Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Tsunami Consolidation

I have a fairly fun story from this last week I thought I should share with everyone. It doesn’t sound fun, but the whole day and afternoon just kept getting more and more comical to us involved.

This week (April Fools Day to be exact) I got a text message from another volunteer saying that we have a tsunami warning, it wasn’t a joke and we should take the next action. In emergencies PC has an Emergency Action Plan that we are all acquainted with and it is often drilled into us. We all have places to go around our area that we are supposed to go to in case the Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is put into effect.

So, I called the PC staff member on duty and asked if it was in fact a real thing and not just an April Fools day joke. It was real. There had been a fairly large (7.6) earthquake off the coast of the Solomon Islands and the Solomon Islands had already been hit with a tsunami. The PC told me to start the EAP. For my area of Savai'i I am in charge of calling all the volunteers near me and making sure everyone goes to the appropriate place.

Our consolidation place had changed recently to a village near me that is inland somewhat, but not very elevated. It is a Mormon church. I was the first to show up and there was no one around to let me into the church. Finally a few missionaries show up and when I explain the situation to them, they told me I wasn’t allowed into the church since I wasn’t Mormon. Well, PC had previously made an agreement with the bishop that we were allowed into the church in the emergencies. So, I tried to explain it to them, but the cell phone wasn’t working for the contact person at the church that I was supposed to call. Finally, the PC got on the phone with the groundskeeper of the church and we learned that we had made an agreement with the previous bishop of the church, but not the new one who knew nothing about it. He was in Apia and had the key and also didn’t have a phone to be reached at. So I sat outside the church for a good hour. A few of the missionaries tried to talk to me about Mormonism and converting and if I was married, but I was so tired and still so sick, I really wasn’t in the mood to talk.

Finally the PC told us to go to a different spot for consolidation, but it turned out to not be the best option. After a little more discussion and phone conversations we realized we wouldn’t be able to stay at the Mormon Church and so we headed to the place that used to be our consolidation spot, another school on higher ground.

When we got there, the brothers that lived at the school weren’t really prepared for us to show up, but they were gracious and let us sit outside on their porch during the whole thing. One of the brothers had internet at his place, so he printed up the story on the earthquake and the tsunami in the Solomon’s so we had an idea of what was going on. During most of the consolidation we sat around and chatted. We ate some peas, a few crackers and some peanut butter someone had packed in their emergency kit. I had packed some candy necklaces for fun, and it was nice to have the sugar seeing as how I am a sugar fiend.

The tsunami threat had been over for awhile before we were released back to our sites, but they made us stay for awhile in case of after shocks or flooding. My area in Savai'i is in a flood plain and very close to the water, a hundred feet maybe, so they were making sure everything was on the safe side until we were ready to go back.

This was on Palm Sunday (a fairly big Sunday in Samoa) so it was too bad we missed it, but I am glad that PC takes all precautions that they can when it comes to our safety. There were some hiccups I can’t really go into detail on the blog, but that’s always to be expected in such short notice emergencies.

In other news, Easter is a pretty big holiday here and I am looking forward to it. They don’t color eggs or hide baskets or have rabbits anywhere like we do back in the states, but they do have a pretty fun church service: lots of songs, skits and dancing. My counterpart is in one of the skits so I am looking forward to it. I only wish I still had my camera so I can take and post pictures of it later. Sara and her friend Janita are also coming over for a visit this weekend during Easter. It should be fun to have some friends visiting during the holiday. We are going to color eggs with an egg coloring kit mom sent over last year from the states and maybe hide a few for each other or some of the kids on the compound. It’s also Laupama’s birthday Saturday, so maybe I will give her a few of the colored eggs as well as another gift.

Hope this finds everyone well. Have a happy Easter, He is risen!
Until next time…


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