Residents of an area called Ueligitone in Magiagi have one wish for Christmas. They want Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and his Cabinet Ministers to walk through their sub-village so they could see for themselves the destruction caused by Cyclone Evan.
Speaking to the Sunday Samoan yesterday, Alo Palefuiono Pesamino and Taupau Sepeligi remembered how their houses and “everything that we own” were washed away by a flash flood that accompanied Cyclone Evan, 10 days ago.
“I know there are many Samoans affected but I believe Ueligitone is the worst affected area,” Alo told the Sunday Samoan. “In the history of this village, we have never seen anything like that flood. It was frightening.”
But Alo doesn't blame the cyclone.
“The government officials haven’t been making their regular visits to maintain the water pipe that runs through our village,” said Alo. “I believethat if those visits were up to date, proper maintenance would have secured the bolts and nuts that hold the pipe together.”
According to the villagers, the pipe in question belongs to the Electric Power Corporation. When the cyclone struck, the pipe busted and was cut to pieces. Water from it contributed to the flash floods that devastated Ueligitone and the Apia region.
Alo said the location of these pipes has been a contentious issue for their village.
“This is why we argued that we should get free electricity,” he said. “This is the risk we face by having these big pipes run on our land and near our homes.”
Alo said he hopes the Government would also learn from the flooding.
“I think these pipes are no longer safe to have around our homes,” he said. “If it wasn't for the pipe, we would still have our homes. Now, we don't have anything. All our material belongings have disappeared. Our children will have to live where we are sheltered today for the next few months until something is done about where we will move to.”
Alo said it’s important for the Government to witness “first hand the conditions we are living in.”
“I want them to know that what we used to call our village doesn't exist anymore. I heard they came for an inspection but they only stood on top of the hill. They didn't come down through the track that we take everyday.”
Alo said the flood could have resulted in a massacre if it happened at night.
“I am thankful to God for this becauseit happened at daytime. If it hit us at 8pm or 9pm, we would all have perished, dead.”
To the Prime Minister, Alo urged; “Come and see what’s happened and get a feel of what we are experiencing now because of this massive water pipe. We want you to understand what we are feeling.”
There were 400 people living at Ueligitone before the cyclone. Today, only a few families have returned to the area.
Another resident, Moe Fa’asisila said the pipe was not the only cause of the flooding.
“The water catchment above us couldn't contain the water and I think that’s another reason why the damage has impacted us in a serious way,” she said. “Our families cannot return there now we have to live here at this shelter for months until we get help to give our homes a proper cleaning.”
Mrs. Fa’asisila is one of many Ueligitone residents staying at the Mormon Church shelter at Magiagi.
Elina Vaa said her family’s house was right in the path of the floods.
“Now our house is gone and we are left with nothing,” she said. “But I am thankful to those who have stepped, in even strangers to provide us with some comfort.This includes my sister who lives in one of the rural areas who has come to our aid.”
The residents of Ueligitone hope that the government would help them rebuild their homes.
“At the moment, we have nowhere to go,” Alo said.