Day 6: Field Report
A very full day of interviews and meetings. It rained heavily in the night – knocked out power and interrupted internet service for awhile. The rains pose a health risk. Both dengue fever and Leptisporis are on the rise because of the debris has created many pooling places for stagnant water. We were told yesterday of a man who was evacuated off island with swine flu, leptospirosis and dengue all at once. We spent the morning at the home of the park anthropologist we interviewed yesterday. Her home was right on the edge of the inundation zone and her pig sty was in it. She has a sow with 6 piglets and when she returned to her home after the tsunami, they had all survived but the sow had a high water dirt mark on it’s neck. All of the piglets must have swum to survive. Her village is Leone where 11 people died – it was the single hardest hit in terms of human loss. The water heights weren’t as high in Leone and the percent of damaged structures wasn’t as great as in the nearby communities of Paloa (1 death) or Amenave (no deaths) where almost all structures were erased. The difference in the casualty rate is probably mainly related to the population of the village – Leone is much larger, but tomorrow we will visit Amenave and Paloa and may have more to add to the story. A number of larger buildings appeared to have little damage and we heard several stories of people surviving on the second floors. We spent some time looking at the pattern of damage in Leone. It was irregular – flattened buildings next to ones that appeared substantially undamaged. Impact appears to have played a major role . Vehicles, telephone boles, trees, boats and large containers were transported tens of meters and the size and character of impact had a major role in the severity of damage. In our cursory look, we saw little evidence of scour – just one location in central Leone where the scour was noticeable.
We met with Don Vargo of the American Samoa Community College and several colleagues. Don and his research assistants have helped a number of visiting scientific teams and their translation help has been essential to getting accurate accounts from people who only speak Samoan. We had a lively discussion about what could be done to improve education efforts and institutionalize the lessons of this event. A top priority is a good tsunami hazards map for the territory. While there are a number of generic tsunami hazard zones posted, there is no information on how high or far people need to go. Over evacuation was common on September 29. With credible hazard zone maps it would be possible to create walking evacuation routes and evacuation areas. With evacuation routes, village evacuation drills could be held – maybe a good goal is the one year anniversary of the tsunami.