<!-- IMAGE -->
Relief efforts are continuing in the Pacific islands of Samoa, American
Samoa and Tonga, where the death toll is approaching 200 from Tuesday's
earthquake and tsunami. Seaside communities are burying their dead and
coming to grips with their losses.
The people of American
Samoa are starting to clean up as they cope with their vivid memories.
Mormon Church official Stu Uiagalelei was teaching a children's class
when the earthquake struck.
"It was one of the mornings I'll never forget," he said.
and his students fled to higher ground as the tsunami overturned cars
and buses and sent a yacht skimming over a football field. A yacht
lies wedged in front of his church. He says he watched people die, and
rescued a Korean immigrant, but later discovered that bodies had washed
up behind his church.
"As soon as we got up there, that's when
the tsunami came. I was out there watching the whole thing passing by
my eyes," he recalled.
In some hard-hit coastal regions, whole
families were killed by the crushing tsunami. Juliette Foster knew one
family - a shopkeeper, his wife and children. All of them, she
thinks, were killed in the tsunami.
She says every family has a story.
lost my aunt down on the other end of the island. They found her the
same day, but we're still looking for my 12-year-old niece. We haven't
found her yet, and I'm hoping we will soon," she said.
Sales clerk Tamuli Farami escaped with her eight children, but says the losses in these islands touch everyone.
are relatives. Some are friends and neighbors. Some people they found
in the road, and also in the streams, some on the side of the stores,
so I feel sorry for those people," said Farami.
recovery workers have come from around the world, and in American
Samoa, people like Ben Raju of the U.S. Small Business Administration
are preparing to make low-interest loans to homeowners, renters and
"When the long-term recovery aspect of it is
reached, that's when individuals will be focusing on long-term recovery
such as rebuilding and re-establishing themselves to the way that they
were prior to the disaster," he said.
Juliette Foster assesses the damage to her truck and home, as she tries to comfort her children.
always asking me every night, mommy, are we going to die? Is it going
to come again? Is this the end of the world?" she asked.
and everyday life are slowly getting back to normal on these peaceful
Pacific islands, but people say the wounds will take time to heal.