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Leone resident fears floods despite wall

Safety from floodwaters shielded by the Vaisigano wall is a question mark for a 67-year-old man of Leone. 

Tavita Nikolao was brought up alongside the Vaisigano riverbanks and has lived there with his family since. They have seen and experienced floodwaters that have had an immense impact on residents living alongside the riverbanks. 

“I have encountered many floods. The first flood, the water brought all the trees down, it was before the hurricane of 1966,” he said to the Samoa Observer. 

“Safety is a big question mark despite this wall because we haven’t seen the river hit the walls. We are not really safe I can say, because we would like to see the water come in.” 

While he appreciates the initiative of having the wall to protect them, however from his past experiences, Mr. Nikolao said when the river floods there is no stopping it. 

“The water when it floods, it’s a flood, and the walls won’t stop the water, and believe me when it’s really flooded, it becomes really bad, it brings all the big trees and take it down to the ocean,” he said. 

“It’s not really safe, but it’s good to see the wall. Now the young generations will see the wall, and they’ll put it in their mind how strong the water will be, to me it’s ok but not safe. I’m not safe because I have lived through so many floods. 

“When the force of water comes, it comes and no one can stop it, the big trees were also brought down with the water.” 

Mr. Nikolao explained when the Leone Bridge was constructed; they were told it was strong enough to withstand the impact of floodwaters. 

“The floodwaters brought down big trees, including huge rocks and they damaged the foundation of the bridge,” he said. 

“The worst flood that hit us was in 2012; the water entered our house and damaged our furniture and television and belongings.” 

Nonetheless, Mr. Nikolao appreciates the work to have a new wall to protect people living alongside the Vaisigano River from floodwaters. 

“The thing that we didn’t like about the work is that the wall stopped the wind blowing from the west to reach us, the fresh wind, which made us a little pissed off.”

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