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Family prepares for cyclone threat

The threat of a tropical cyclone hitting Samoa has got the Peala family in Lotofaga worried.

The home of the 13-member family is 9 square metres in size with a corrugated iron roof supported by wooden posts and broken blue tarpaulins, which are dropped to serve as a wall during bad weather, but can barely keep out the rain.

The family uses traditionally-woven mats to sleep on the house’s wooden floor, though the wooden floor is above the ground by less than a metre, making the occupants of the house vulnerable to flooding.

One family member, 34-year-old Kapega Peala, was checking the tarpaulins when Samoa Observer arrived and he told the newspaper that they were preparing for the cyclone.

“Our family has started preparations for strong winds and heavy rainfall. We already bought some torches and lanterns if the power goes off,” he said. “Despite having tarpaulins with holes surrounding our home, we will have no choice but to manage with the resources that we have. We also stocked some canned foods and rice for food supply and also some water stored in buckets.”

Mr Peala said five members of his family are employed and he looks after their home and the plantation. 

“I am in charge of looking after our home and plantation with my normal chores such as planting more taro and banana trees to help with our food consumption,” he added. “At the moment we are fortunate the water supply is still working, but we have to prepare when the water gets disconnected or is not clean because bad weather in terms of heavy rainfall leads to dirty water.”

The family has called that home for the last nine years and Mr Peala said they will continue to be alert. 

“We have lived here for nine years and it is a concern that our country will face bad weather conditions but we must be vigilant and alert.”

His sister Ula Peala and her three children and other relatives also live with him in the same house, and he said it is his responsibility to take care of his sister and her children.

“I am my sister’s protector since she has separated with her husband and culturally it is part of my role as her brother.”

The family’s house is next to the main road and is surrounded by banana trees, taro and pineapples planted in the front. 

Samoa’s Meteorology issued a warning 11am (local time) on Saturday of a Category 1 Tropical Cyclone within the next 6-12 hours. 

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