Flooding fear displaces Safotu family

A family from Safotu, Savai'i has been forced by floodwaters to move out of their home and off their land by near-constant flooding from an adjacent riverbank. 

The Tauasa Asosa family found themselves frequently seeking refuge with other families during heavy rainfall with the cycle taking its toll on the family, leading to their decision to move.

The family matriarch, Fa’ata Tauasa, said their main concern was the safety of the family's younger children. 

"It was not like that back in the olden days," the concerned mother and grandmother, told the Samoa Observer. 

"As you can see, our house and bathroom is still there, but we no longer stay there because when the river bursts, the water gets inside our house and our bathroom used to be covered with dirty water. 

"We knew it was not safe for us to stay there. At first, when our house started being flooded, we would always vacate and stay with other families, especially at night. 

"It became a norm for us, that when it rains, we would move and find shelter.

“We would return to our home after the water had dried up only to see our house and bathroom covered with dirt and it would take a while for us to clean the entire house and land for the safety of our children."

Flooding around the far end of Safotu where the Tauasa family used to reside is new, said Mrs. Tauasa. 

"I think the main reason why it has been flooding constantly, more recently, is that we now have so many people from our village who have relocated further inland and have built their houses and plantations back there where the river is. 

"So now when it bursts its banks, the water is now trying to find its way to the sea. Therefore, it has dispersed into other areas and that’s why our houses have been affected every time there is bad weather on the island."

Starting again on a different piece of land and in a different home was the best option for the Tauasa family.

"We had to move to the other side and start anew with my husband and children as we feel we were no longer safe there. 

"My biggest concern is my younger children. Because the weather is unpredictable sometimes and we never know when it will rain heavily. 

"When it rained all throughout the night, we [would] pack and move elsewhere.

"It's not an old house, if you look at it. It's still strong and in good condition, it's just that we know it's not safe for us to stay there with my children especially with the different weather patterns we are experiencing."

With no proper bridge in the area, Mrs. Tauasa said motorists from that part of the island are finding it hard to cross the road every time it floods. 

When asked if they have ever approached their Member of Parliament or the Government to raise their concerns, the mother said no. 

"But we did inform our village mayor seeking his help, and seeking his opinion on how we should present our concern to our M.P. for help. 

"We hope the Government or our village will do something to help out. I understand that these are things that are caused by nature, but I am sure we can work something out on how to lessen the burdens faced by families living around this area when it floods. 

"We were told that they would consider our plea if there are more than three or four families coming together all at once to present our concerns."

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