Magiagi residents face constant flooding fears

For more than 20 years, some residents of Magiagi say they have lived with fear that a river near their homes will burst its banks and flood their homes unexpectedly. 

The Va’a family of Magiagi on Wednesday woke up to an overflow amid hard rain and widespread flash flooding.

But to the family the extreme weather was nothing new. 

In an interview with this newspaper, Mutia Asiata said the family’s main worry about their living arrangements was a severe river flood occuring in the middle of the night while they sleep.

“It was always a nightmare to think that one day, we’ll wake up to a whole different world as the river flood struck while we’re at our beds sleeping,” she said.

“We’re mainly worried about the kids.”

More than ten children and teenagers reside in their home at Magiagi.

Ana Va’a, her family’s eldest daughter, said though flooding is nothing new, it’s always a worrisome burden.

“With the bad weather continuing to happen, our family had been having nightmares [about]  the river ever since the first strike in 2012 when not only our house but other houses as well were completely washed [away] by the river flooding,” she said.

“It was the worst one I could recall.

“We do not want to go back to that experience again.

“It was like a tsunami and over half of the residents of this village were made redundant and homeless because of that incident.

“We’re more worried that [future floods] might strike at night when it’s dark everywhere and we won’t be able to escape - or worse - while we’re sleeping.”

The Va’a family reside in three small houses located only a few feet from the river bank.

Ms. Va’a also recalled her beautiful childhood memories of enjoying the river with her younger siblings.

“We used to envy living beside the river growing up where we would enjoy the cool and warm water after school or after our chores,” she said.

“But that was before everything turned into nightmares.”

Ms. Va’a said her family had never discussed moving; they have relatives in two other villages they can live with in case of emergencies.

On 18 December last year, Magiagi residences close to the river and those in the adjacent Lelata were covered by flood waters, mud and debris.

Lelata residents were evacuated with a small traffic boat owned by the Samoa Fire and Emergency Services Authority when they could not cross the river. 

Magiagi residents, by contrast, walked up the hills to the higher ground in their village.

The Va’a family home experienced damage again. 

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