I've been trolling the internet trying to get news about how Samoa is doing in the aftermath of cyclone Evan. The media is saying that the devastation is as bad or worse than the 2009 tsunami.
I've heard from some Pisi Koa in country. It seems that the swearing in for Group 84 was postponed. One posted a photo showing them ankle deep in water in the hotel lobby which is connected to the Peace Corps office. The good news is that they're all safe and staying dry.
There are inconsistent reports of the number of people who lost their lives in the storm. Reports say that those who died were killed when the river between Aggie Grey's and the Peace Corps office overflowed it's banks. I keep thinking of the people I'd met who lived and worked near there. The friendly family which sold barbecue on the banks of the river. The family that lived next to the taxi stand I always used. They sometimes sold barbecue too and the kids always waved like mad when I walked by. I loved stopping to say hello and give the little ones a hug. I hope they are safe.
According to various news outlets, the greatest concern now is hunger. There was a joke in Samoa that no one could ever starve in Samoa because your dinner will hit you on the head. It was true - breadfruit, papaya and coconut were everywhere. Almost every family has a plantation where they grow taro and bananas along with other fruits and vegetables.
Now, the plantations have been devastated and breadfruit and papaya trees blown down. The staples of the local diet are gone.
One thing I learned in Samoa is that they are strong, resilient people. They find humor even in tragedy. They will find a way to come back. The many family members in New Zealand, Australia and elsewhere will help, giving more than they can afford.
And no power? No problem. They'll spend the evenings by lantern light, talking and laughing, being there for each other. The power of family, community and God will see them through.
The Samoans can teach the rest of the world a lot about overcoming adversity.