Tsunami hits home for Bengals
By Joe Reedy • firstname.lastname@example.org
• September 30, 2009
It’s been a rough couple days for the three Bengals with ties to America Samoa, which was hit by a tsunami on Tuesday.
Jonathan Fanene, Domata Peko
and Rey Maualuga
were in contact with each other on Tuesday after the news broke, and all three were still trying to get updates about their family on Wednesday.
Peko reached his parents Tuesday night, while Maualuga was still trying to reach his younger brother on Wednesday.
Fanene, who got ahold of his mom but not other relatives, was the most shaken up, tearing up while discussing the tragedy.
“Right now back home, I’m not sure what’s going on,” Fanene said. “I talked to my mom this morning. She’s doing OK. She said the island is messed up.”
Fanene and Peko are from Pago Pago, American Samoa, while Maualuga’s parents are native Samoans.
“It was real tough (on Tuesday) because you couldn’t get a call into there,” Peko said.
“I got ahold of my mom and dad and they said they were fine. A lot of people were coming off the mountain and going back to their homes. It’s a tragedy over there. It was a little surprising, see little Samoa go through a tough time.”
Said Maualuga of having two other Samoans on the team: “They’re like my brothers. They’ll calm me down when I need it. They’ve definitely been there for me.”
“My mom is doing her best to see if she can get in contact with the people out there,” he said. “The death toll is increasing every day and all we can do now is look up to God and pray. When the time comes for us to help I’m pretty sure I’ll step up. As of now all we can do is hope.”
The earthquake was centered about 120 miles south of the islands of Samoa, which has about 220,000 people, and American Samoa, a U.S. territory of 65,000.
According to various accounts, four tsunami waves 15-20 feet high roared ashore on American Samoa about 15 minutes after the quake, reaching up to a mile inland.
In Pago Pago, according to reports, the streets and fields were filled with debris, mud, overturned cars and several boats as a massive cleanup effort stretched into the night. Several buildings in the city — just a few feet above sea level — were flattened. Power was expected to be out in some areas for up to a month.
Samoan police commissioner Lilo Maiava told The Associated Press that police had confirmed 63 deaths, while in American Samoa, Gov. Togiola Tulafono said at least 30 people were killed. Both said searches were continuing.
“The island is so small a couple villages got taken out, but the village where I’m from was OK,” Peko said.
The Samoa Red Cross estimated 15,000 people were affected by the tsunami.
The Associated Press contributed