Mayor calls for Govt. action

By Ivamere Nataro and Nefertiti Matatia ,

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FLOODING WOES: Mayor Of Ma'agao and Lelata Papalii Pene (inset). Photos: Misiona Simo.

FLOODING WOES: Mayor Of Ma'agao and Lelata Papalii Pene (inset). Photos: Misiona Simo.

It’s high time the Government speed up works on the construction of the Vaisigano River wall. 

The call was made by Village Mayor of Lelata and Ma’agao, Papali’i Pene, who says the floodwaters brought about by Tropical Cyclone Gita affected most families in his area, including Fa’atoia, causing more than 10 families to flee their homes.

He has been village mayor for more than 10 years, and under his leadership he has seen families struggle through natural disasters, especially floods because there’s no barrier to separate the river from the land. 

“The flood waters have an enormous effect on Lelata, Ma’agao and a portion of Faatoia,” he said. 

“For Tropical Cyclone Gita, the river current follows the same pathway during Cyclone Evan. Luckily that families have gone to evacuation sites.

“A lot of families from Ma’agao have evacuated to evacuation camps at the National University of Samoa and Adventist Development and Relief Agency.

“Most families don’t want to leave their homes because of their properties and belongings. It’s compulsory to have all families move to the evacuation sites, but when families don’t want to leave then nothing can be done about it.”

This is why he says, having the wall right around the two rivers circling Lelata is paramount. 

“Development is getting better now because they have built the wall at Vaisigano, but the only problem is because the stream that circles Lelata doesn’t have a wall to protect the families from overflowing water.

“When the river floods, it’s really powerful. The flood doesn’t only spread sickness once it’s finished, but it also ruins vegetation. Almost every house here at Lelata, part of Ma’agao and Faatoia is affected. Belongings have been ruined because of the flood.”

However, the 66-year-old says they have no power over the construction of the wall. 

“We have no power over the construction of the wall, which is all up to the Government, the only thing we can do is kindly remind them,” Papalii said. 

“They can’t just fix the wall at Aggie’s because the river comes all the way from behind Lelata, so when it overflows then it will come into the families’ homes.”

He explained: “The reason there’s a delay in the construction of the wall along the Lelata riverbank is because some families disagree with the construction of the wall. The families have their own personal reasons for disagreeing with the construction works.”

Papali’i says floodwaters left behind large deposits of mud in his area and there were men and women from his village who were working to clear the road.

“I was at the Red Cross seeking help, so I’m going to wait because we will need to conduct a survey of the whole area that has been affected,” he adds. 

“It’s the same thing for the Disaster Management Organisation (D.M.O.). I was there too, so they’re going to be coming here to assess the damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Gita. 

“They need to assess the damage first before help can be given to the victims of the flood.

“We are still waiting on the D.M.O. and Red Cross, but we have received a little help which was able to be distributed to families such as corn beef cans, rice, and water bottles because there is a water cut.”

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