Lelata resident calls for better protection from floodwaters

By Nefertiti Matatia and Ivamere Nataro ,

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THIS IS WHERE IT ENDED UP: The logs and debri from Vaisigano river ends up on the black sand beach on Beach Road.

THIS IS WHERE IT ENDED UP: The logs and debri from Vaisigano river ends up on the black sand beach on Beach Road. (Photo: Misiona Simo)

Friday night’s heavy downpour and strong winds was something to be reckon with for 74-year-old Gordon Bartley. 

Born and raised in Lelata, the father of three said if anything, Tropical Cyclone Gita raises a red flag for the Government of Samoa to act. “It’s about time the wall promised by the Government after Cyclone Evan in 2012 should be completed,” Mr. Bartley said.

“It’s good that the wall that is being constructed at Vaisigano has begun, which is high enough to stop floodwaters, but it would be even better if the same was done for Lelata. “No wall has been constructed yet alongside the river that runs behind our house. The river flows from Magiagi and reaches Vaisigano River.

“If Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment had built the wall alongside the riverbanks, I’m pretty sure the whole of Lelata would have been safe.” 

The logs and debri from Vaisigano river ends up on the black sand beach on Beach Road.  Photo / Misiona Simo
The logs and debri from Vaisigano river ends up on the black sand beach on Beach Road. Photo / Misiona Simo

Mr. Bartley says Cyclone Evan wrecked havoc in most parts of Samoa, especially his property, but Tropical Cyclone Gita could have been worse. “The floodwaters were really bad, one of my houses was destroyed and families in the area had to evacuate and relocate, my fences were damaged and I lost my plantation. 

“Water almost reached our second-storey house. The children in the area also looted some of the residents’ homes who had to evacuate, stealing valuable items.”

He hopes the Government would do something about the wall they had promised because it is the second time that floodwaters have severely damaged his property.

Mr. Bartley had to tell his tenant to move out because the house which he rented out was close to the river, which was affected by the rising water level. 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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