Friday, March 20, 2009

The Seas Did Not Rise Up to Smite Us

Fun with Tsunami Warnings

But they may have been considering it.

To add a little excitement to our day an earthquake in Tonga triggered a tsunami warning in Samoa. Cale received a phone call from the Peace Corps office at 8:50 am informing us of the warning and telling us to move to our tsunami consolidation point, which, quite simple is uta ([ooh-tah] inland).

Cale came into my classroom making the the finger across the throat gesture that initially led me to believe that the power must be out at his school, but instead met that I should stop teaching, drop everything and evacuate.

After Cale explained the situation, I immediately told me class there was a tsunami warning and that they were to leave and go directly to their form room. I then located the vice-principal and told him what was up. He told me that he already knew. I told him that I heard schools were supposed to be evacuating, but he didn't seem to be too concerned. I then went and told the school secretary and the other computer teachers that I had to evacuate due to the tsunami warning. Once again, little to no concern shown.

I rushed home to find Cale already packing things into the bike bag and a backpack. According to our Peace Corps Emergency Action Plan a we should have an Emergency Bag of Essentials that contains:

1. PC passport
2. Personal passport
3. WHO card
4. PC identification card
5. PC/Samoa Handbook, Personal Safety Manual, Medical Manual and EAP Handbook
6. Inventory of personal and Peace Corps property left at site
7. Other important personal documents such as bank/ATM cards, check books, credit cards, marriage or other certificates.
8. Money
9. Personal medical kit and medications
10. Purified water and purification tablets
11. Food and snack items
12. Clothes for several days
13. Towel
14. Keys to house
15. Reading and writing materials
16. Pack of cards or other basic games to occupy time
17. Candles and matches
18. Flashlight and extra batteries
19. Radio
20. Cassette, CD or DVD player and music and videos to occupy time

Now, if we actually had all of these things packed some where and tried to take them with us in case of an emergency we would never escape a tsunami. Not with 20 pounds of stuff on our backs.

Here is a run down of what Cale and I deemed important enough from our belongings to rescue in case of inundation by sea:

1. Two bottles of water
2. Crackers and peanut butter
3. Camera and two extra lenses
4. Computer
5. Two external hard-drives
6. Two iPods
7. One portable iPod player
8. Three books
9. Sunscreen
10. Birth control pills (not sure what I thought was going to be happening, but best to be prepared)
11. Wallets
12. Passports
13. Keys to our house and Cale's computer lab
14. Thumb drives
15. Can of tuna
16. Can opener
17. Fork

As you can see our emergency list is decidedly technology-centric.

We got on the bikes and headed inland towards Faleata. About a third of the way up the hill we stopped for water and discovered we hadn't remembered to bring any money with us. Luckily, I had the money kids had been paying to print at the school in my bag in case of an emergency (like, say, a tsunami).

We were about four and a half miles inland when we got the call that the warning had been cancelled and we could go home. So we turned around and headed back. 

Shower, sandwich and back to school for my last two classes of the day. Absolutely nothing had changed at school while I was gone and there was no reaction whatsoever to my sudden disappearance and bike ride to Faleata.

It certainly made for a more exciting day, I can say that.

— Sara


annette said...

what a way to get some good exercise!!
i hope this does not prevent you from reacting quickly if there is ever another warning.

stay safe!

Barb Carusillo said...

Man, I want a Tsunami warning at work sometime!!!Think that may be doable in central Indiana? Could use the exitement.
They had one in Denver once by mistake in the early warning system. Could you see the raised eye brows of the populace "Tsunami? In Colorado? Wonder if California is completely gone?"