Rebuilding after Pacific tsunami
18 May 2011
Samoa, America Samoa and Tonga in the Pacific had to cope with loss of life and homes when a tsunami from a powerful earthquake at sea struck the small communities in September 2009.
Caritas Samoa led people affected by a tsunami in Samoa in 2009 to safety and provided temporary shelter.
Caritas Samoa staff were among the first to visit southwest Upolu after the tsunami hit; and in the month afterwards, provided food, drinking water and other emergency items to almost 1,500 people. It also undertook trauma counseling, helped with education needs, and prepositioned supplies for possible future emergencies at six locations on Samoa’s two main islands of Upolu and Savaii.
As the newest member of the 165-strong Caritas confederation, Caritas Samoa responded well by recruiting excellent staff to complete the work on time and to a high standard, according to the final report on the reconstruction project. It was assisted by the international Caritas network, in particular expertise and assistance provided by Caritas Australia and Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand.
The last of 70 fale (houses) built for some of the worst-affected villages in the southeast of Upolu island in Samoa was completed in August 2010. Following difficulties over land access in Tonga, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand has also supported Caritas Tonga in rebuilding houses for families who wish to remain on their ancestral land, rather than move to government-designated sites.