I just talked to Asolima and she said Fausaga is okay. They have a marshy inlet that separates the village from the ocean, so it was able to blunt the effects of the rising tide. Nonetheless, many of the families have retreated inland to the more elevated maumaga. As I was on the phone with Asolima, she said the radio was broadcasting new tsunami warnings and they would probably head up the mountain once more. She added they'd probably sleep there.
Much of Fausaga's neighboring village, Tafitoala, sits along the ocean and was badly hit. Much of the Tafitoala Beach Fales have been wiped out as well as a bunch of the other houses along the beach. Neighboring beach resorts, including Sinalei and Coconuts, were also badly hit.
Koa is fine. He lives on the north side of the island and everything in his village is mostly back to normal. Supy evacuated with Dan and Paul and spent the morning drinking niu. He said the water level rose, but his village came through unharmed. Phil lives right on the water, but said the water didn't come onto land. Paul and Dan's village suffered minor damage, and a woman reportedly died from a heart attack.
I've heard Erin's village may have seen a 20-foot wave. That estimate is based on boats lying 200 meters inland. The secondary school in her village collapsed.
I'll post more when I hear more.
The tsunami warning was cleared around 11:45 a.m. By then I'd walked up to Blakey's. After the all clear, we caught a ride back down the hill along with Briony and Jenny. Apia is all shut down. Schools are closed. Restaurants are closed.
News is sketchy. It sounds like the south, and particularly the southeast, parts of Upolu were most affected. It's difficult to know whether the damage was caused by the quake itself or the subsequent rising water levels. I've also heard the number of fatalities is 14, although it was unclear if that was for Samoa or American Samoa.
Erica 80, who lives down there, thinks she lost her house. Blakey talked to Erin 81, who hadn't been back to her house since the quake, but thought were house would probably be okay. That said, she said one of her year 5s died.
I have not heard any news about Matt 79, but he lives on the southwestern side of the island, which seems unaffected. From what I've heard, all Savai'i volunteers are fine.
News from Fausaga has been slow to come in. I received a text message from my Host Sister Asolima this morning asking if I was okay, but she didn't respond when I texted back. More on the host village (and neighboring Tafitoala, Jordan) when I hear back.
Most shocking to me is how strong the earthquake was for me and that I was on the far side of the island from the epicenter.
Pictures of this morning's evacuation below. Earlier posts below that.
The sidewalks of the Cross Island Road were filled with people hiking uphill. The road itself became a one-way two-lane road uphill.
Cars driving under banners reminding drivers of the 3-week old Road Switch.
Me standing with year 13s.
Flatbed trucks were used to cart loads of people uphill.
Most of Apia evacuated to higher ground. Uphill roads became one-way highways for cars and buses, but most of us just walked. Tsunami sirens blared across Apia. Church bells rang. My school rang its bell. The Peace Corps sent out mass text messages, which they followed up with phone calls to make sure everyone was heading inland.
I walked with a couple girls from my 11.3 class and held an impromptu geology lesson.
There was much confusion as to where we were supposed t go and where we could stop. Students asked me where we were going, and I could only tell them we were going “Up.” A couple teachers also asked me. “I was following you,” I said.
Eventually I setup camp with a bunch of year 13s where we had plain sight of the ocean. We hung out in the shade, and my cell phone got passed around.
After about an hour some people started heading back downhill, but most of us stayed in place. I wanted to get clear word from the Peace Corps before I left. And then I did.
It’s unclear what this means for the rest of the school day. Since there’s no articulated evacuation point, students and staff were strewn across multiple villages and it seems impossible for us all to come back and spend the rest of the day as normally scheduled.
We’ll just have to wait and see.
USGS is calling it an 8.0.
About 8 minutes ago, we just had a big earthquake. Big. No information yet on the exact magnitude, but it was quite long and certainly big enough to knock over stuff around my house. I'm guessing it was at least a 6.0 on account of the stuff flying about. About 40 seconds in, I grabbed my laptop because I was afraid the cinderblock shelf was going to fall on top of it. The quake went on and on and on to the point it felt like it was continuously shaking into the aftershock phase. And we've had a couple aftershocks already.
7 months ago