blocks_image
news.
mark banner 2

One Year Later

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 4:15 PM American Samoa Time

Today is the one year anniversary of the killer tsunami that struck us here in American Samoa.

It’s really hard to believe that it’s been a whole year.

To an outsider, it would appear as though very little rebuilding has taken place. There are still dozens of families living in tents on the western side of Tutuila. The power station for the eastern side of the island is still in ruins. Along the main strip in Pago Pago, there are still collapsed buildings and broken cars. There is still garbage everywhere, and the emotional scarring will, of course, last for years.

But as frightening as that is, consider the following:

One year later, there is still no warning siren system in place.
ONE YEAR LATER!

One year later, there are still no regular tsunami drills taking place in the schools.
ONE YEAR LATER!

Incredible! Last year children actually DIED in the tsunami because the administration at some local schools simply did not know to send the kids to higher ground. Unbelievable, I know. One principal actually just took off after the earthquake, leaving the kids behind to fend for themselves. And nothing has been done. NOTHING has been done to these people, these cowards. One principal sent the kids home right after the earthquake last year, even though most of the kids lived in lower-lying areas than the school itself. Unreal. Some children lost their lives because of inept school leadership, and there has been no formal apology offered, no investigation of what went wrong, and no task force on how to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. And again, in at least some schools, they’re not even doing tsunami drills. We used to do tornado drills in NC when I was a kid on a regular basis, and we did fire drills like once a month. And yet here in American Samoa, the schools aren’t doing tsunami drills. The attitude is one of, “if you feel an earthquake, run! Oh, and good luck!”

One year later, one million dollars have been raised through completely private donations to a tsunami relief fund held by the local American Samoa government. $1,000,000! This is not a US Government relief fund. It is a fund of private donations. And the American Samoa Government is supposed to oversee it. Guess how much of the money has been disbursed one year later? If you guessed $0.00, you’re right! Not even one cent of the private donations intended for tsunami victims has actually made it to the tsunami victims. I know this may sound unbelievable to you. I know it sounds like this is simply not possible. But I assure you, it is possible. It is possible here, in American Samoa.

Today the Governor led a service of remembrance down in Utulei. But he still leads a government that has been unresponsive to the real needs of real people on the ground here.

What happened here one year ago today is a tragedy.

What has happened here in the year since then is simply criminal.

For those of you who missed it last year, here is a video/music montage that I put together. The music is from a never-released live studio session from several years ago, and the images are photos that Katrina shot on 9/29 and 9/30, 2009. I apologize in advance for the poor audio compression. I do have a high-res version available, but this is all I can seem to fit on YouTube...


Comments
See Older News...