School looking at $70,000 repair bill

The St. Mary’s College is looking at approximately $70,000 to repair the damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Gita at the school.

The estimate was revealed by the College’s Vice Principal, Sina Fitu, during an interview with the Samoa Observer.

Tropical Cyclone Evan is nothing compared to TC Gita, according to the Vice Principal.

Talking to the Samoa Observer, she shared that she has lived in the school for 10 years and Cyclone Evan only smashed windows and fell trees.

This time, Tropical Cyclone Gita flooded the entire school.

“This is the worst experience we have ever had because of the water,” she said. 

“We did not expect this; we just thought it was just going to be strong winds. It was the water which caused so much damage to the school’s compound."

“It was kind of similar to Evan, but we were not flooded this way. There were fallen trees and all of that, but this time the water has ruined everything."

“There was no expectation it was going to be that bad. But we were shocked in the morning to come and see the situation and the way it is now. It is the first time the whole administration block has flooded."

“The river came together with the mud and into the classrooms and halls. The river behind us must have overflowed which is why it resulted to this,” she said.

She says their new desks, which were from the school government’s school scheme, have been ruined and most of the windows of the classrooms are smashed because of the strong winds.

“The desks have been ruined, the material is different and if the desks are not in good condition to be used then we are going to use the old ones we had before because it is kept in the storerooms.”

“We have cleaned up most of the classrooms except for the bathrooms. We are trying to clean the ground as well with the dry mud which has built up. In the science and senior block, the mud in there is really thick. The mud reaches all the way to your knees."

“For three days, all the teachers will be coming to clean the compound to avoid dengue fever and the water supply, the branches which needs to be cleared before the students come back to school,” she added.

Sina says school will probably resume tomorrow.

The only room that was safe in the whole area was there computer lab and she is thankful for that because it would have cost the school a lot should the water enter the lab.

“I don’t know if the Peace Chapel of the Vaimoso Primary is having the same problem as our school because of the water, but I am happy that the computers are not damaged because it is really expensive to replace it.”

She says there were so many fallen trees, but luckily the enormous breadfruit tree didn’t fall on the Year 10 building because it was right next to it.

Sina says the only way to prevent this incident from happening again is to build a cemented fence around the school.

“It depends on the sisters because they own the property if they want to build a cemented fence. The wired gates are not able to stop the water from flowing in if the next cyclone comes.”

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