Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tsunami – Round 2

Friday night I received a text around 10:30 pm from the Peace Corps office which told of the 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile, stay tuned for possible tsunami warning. I got another text around 1:30 am saying there is now and official tsunami warning and the tsunami is expected around 9 am. This was followed by a phone call at 2:30 am saying the same thing. Well, given my recent experiences with tsunamis I was in no mood for another round. I was perfectly safe, staying with friends up a mountain, but I remember the aftermath of the other tsunami and didn’t want the country to have to go through that again. When you go through something like that it tends to stick in your mind forever.

At 4 am, the tsunami sirens started going off every 20-30 minutes. The sirens are only in Apia however. Pretty soon the sound of the sirens was followed by the sounds of church bells and conch shells being blown to alert people. Needless to say I didn’t really sleep much after that. Not only was the noise bad for a light sleeper like me, but I was still thinking about what would happen if another tsunami hit this island country 6 months after the first. At 6 am, my concerned parents texted me about the tsunami warning. Guess they didn't want another episode like last time of knowing I lived on the south coast of Upolu and not knowing for hours whether I was ok or not...understandable.

I heard from other volunteers who were around the town area trying to get uphill that everything was shut down. Not one store or restaurant open and no buses or boats were running as well. Police had barricades up which didn’t allow anyone to get into town and were directing traffic inland. Well, 9 am when by…nothing. Pretty soon 11 am rolled by and no tsunami so the warning was cancelled. I was relieved…a stressful Saturday morning however.

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