Cyclone Val destroys more than Ofa
To mark the 40th Anniversary of the Samoa Observer, a series of selected articles printed over the last 40 years will be re-published in the next two weeks, to show our readers the issues covered by this newspaper over the years and the personalities that made the headlines.
First Published: 13 December 1991
Samoa Observer joins first aerial inspection of Cyclone Val’s destruction by helicopter with Chairman of the National disaster Committee, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, New Zealand High Commissioner, Adrian Simcock, Minister of Public Works Leafa Vitale, Police Commissioner Galuvao Tanielu and Chief Information officer, Tunumafono Apelu Aiavao.
To say that Cyclone Val was worse than Cyclone Ofa would be uttering the understatement of the year.
Val, in her wake, has left us with thousands of people without a roof trestles of hundreds and hundreds of houses in the Apia and surrounding areas, it became evident straight away that the destruction left by Val is immense, to say the least.
Being one of the first people to be able to take in first hand, the destruction right around the country from the air, one was not absolutely sure what to expect.
The damage I saw on the ground after the four day ordeal did not prepare me for what we were about to see. Along the northern coast towards the airport on sees the same scene of scattered roofing irons, timber, and clothing over and over again it almost becomes monotonous. When I turned away from the coast to look inland the destruction to the economy stared at me like a nightmare.
Coconut trees, those left standing anyway, looked like they had been commanded to raise their leaves towards the heaven and bow to the east as though welcoming the rising sun.
It will be a long time indeed before we can drink from a freshly picked coconut.
You can also count on nine to ten months before you can pluck a banana off the tree. If there is a banana tree left standing on the whole of Samoa, it must be underground.
Our forests also have been desiccated, and lifeless trees left lying there like carcasses awaiting the last trip to the butchers, only they have already been butchered.
The scene is repeated all over the country. Manono island is the same, most homes, churches, schools are nothing more than shells with no tops.