This place was wiped out in September 2009 by a catastrophic tsunami that surged in from the ocean after a large 8.1 magnitude off-shore earthquake. The matai tells me that 58 members of his extended family were killed here and a further 150 more people died along this stretch of pristine coastline. On the road trip in today I spotted dozens of low-lying buildings and even a church that appear to have been permanently abandoned since the 2009 disaster.
I’ve asked the Matai and several leading members of the community whether there is some Tsunami rebuilding project that I can highlight for More Than a Game but the good news is that the Samoan government and the local communities are on top of it all and don’t really need outside help. Most of the rebuilding work is now close to completion.
You can read detailed accounts of the 2009 Samoan Tsunami in the new book Surviving a tsunami: dealing with disaster by Jackie Faasisila, Angela Jowitt & Walter Dudley.
The physical damage has now been repaired but the personal losses endured by the people of southern and eastern Upolu will remain for all of their lives.