29 Mar 2010

Mayors of tsunami-hit villages in Samoa grateful for warning system

11:44 am on 29 March 2010

In Samoa, mayors in villages which were struck by last September's tsunami have welcomed a disaster warning system which was donated by the United States Government.

362 air horns will be distributed to more than 100 villages in Upolu and Savaii.

Church bells were rung to warn villagers of the tsunami and some villagers identify the sound of church bells with disaster.

But the mayor of one village said most of the time they can't tell if the church bell was rung for church time or to alert them of a tsunami.

US Charge D Affairs in Samoa, Robin Yeager, says stories about people being afraid of church bells inspired her to provide the warning system from the USA.

After an assessment by U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, and recommendation of local officials in October 2009, a project was drawn up.

The project later expanded to include the purchase of 362 hand wound radios/torches by the U.S. NGO Samaritan's Purse.

The purchase and distribution of the National Tsunami Early Warning System-Air Horns and Radio Project cost US$55,000 dollars.