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A family’s ordeal during Tropical Storm Gita

Mangled roofing iron from houses was a familiar sight on the side of the road after Tropical Storm Gita swept through the territory this past weekend. Up to 80+ mph gusts of winds took down not just trees and roofs of houses, but also telephone and electric poles adding to the devastation.  [photo: TG]
“…that was the time I realized that Gita was not a joke…”

While the American Samoa Power Authority continues to update the Territory on power and water supplies, there are families that are still living in the dark without electricity and without water after Tropical Storm Gita.

Speaking to Samoa News yesterday, Alesana Mikaele, a 45-year-old from Pago Pago, said his family is using water from “heaven” to cook food and take care of other needs for the family, while still waiting for the water and the electricity to be connected — hopefully this week.

He said that life before Gita was tough, but they managed to live happily because there was electricity and water, but everything changed when Gita came, and things will be a lot harder now for his family and many other families around the island.

Speaking about the ordeal they face, Mikaele said the Tropical Storm Gita destroyed their home around 5 a.m. on Friday morning, while they were all still inside their home —including his wife and 3 children.

“We didn't have a good sleep that night, we were just sitting in the middle of the house and looking outside, while the wind kept blowing and blowing, harder and harder.

“When I heard the sound of trees falling down from the back of the house because of the strong wind, that was the time I realized that Gita was not a joke, it’s a real “hurricane”, and our house will be next to blow away,” Mikaele said.

“Despite the sound of strong winds, my three children were able to sleep well in the middle of the house, while I was sitting with my wife beside where our children were and looking at each other.

“All I was praying for is the daylight to come, so that our family could move to a safe place, but things changed when I felt the wood floor of our home move. The next thing I saw was the house was moving upward — when the wind blew it away — while I was hugging my wife with one hand and my other hand was reaching to my children who were still sleeping,” said Mikaele with tears on his eyes.

“Despite the fact that we have nothing left in our home, we are thankful to our Heavenly Father for protecting our family and all of Samoa during this time of hardship.

Mikaele and his family are now staying at a neighbor’s house while waiting for any assistance from the federal government so that they can rebuild their home and get back to their normal life.

In the meantime, he told Samoa News that where they are staying does not have water or power, but the American Samoa Power Authority has told them that their water supply will be on today; however, ASPA is still working on fixing the electricity poles and wires and hopefully power will be back on soon.