INTERNET IS UP – I’m Back! (Post Cyclone Gita Updates)

INTERNET IS UP – I’m Back! (Post Cyclone Gita Updates)

Hello again 21st century world!


I’m writing from my laptop at home – which I haven’t been able to do for the past 2 and a half weeks since Tropical Cyclone Gita. I’ve just been posting from work or on my phone (another reason why I started Moments on my blog), and so here are some updates!

Since the cyclone, we were very fortunate to have our water restored the same day though late in the night. We had prepared with several gallons of water for drinking and collected rainwater for dishwashing/ tooth brushing/ toilet flushing. This was our most basic need so we were truly very blessed to have our water back within 24 hours.

Five days later, electricity came back on! We fared decently without electricity. We bought canned food and ice to keep perishable food in two little coolers, used a tiny gas camp stove to cook, had romantic candlelit dinners, and slept earlier. The hard part: no AC and no fans!  Gita must have taken all the wind with it because the humid tropical summer heat made the air feel hot and sticky. We couldn’t get much relief – other than cold showers; we slept with our windows open, tried to sleep in a tent on the porch (hahaha), and on the living room floor – desperately hoping for a cool gentle breeze to keep us cool while we slept. So when the power came on in my village, I literally shrieked with excitement, immediately turned on the air conditioning, and finally enjoyed a cozy night of sleep.

Eighteen days later, and here we are. The Internet is back up. I’m laying in bed with the AC on right now, streaming Netflix (currently binge watching Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee), typing up this blog update, and feeling so grateful. Also, another update: my landlord is back in town and she’s getting our roof and ceiling fixed! I was a little worried at first that the repairs would drag on the same way all these FEMA and Red Cross assessments are. But she’s way better than FEMA because the supplies have already been purchased and just earlier this afternoon there were like 5 guys on the roof.

Oh yeah, life is good!

Cyclone Gita Aftermath

Cyclone Gita Aftermath

Cyclone Gita impacted our shores early Friday morning on February 9th. A cyclone watch was issued just the day before, then a warning later in the night – and then it hit us. So I think it’s safe to say that we weren’t all that ready for Gita’s wrath.

The only reason I knew a storm was coming a week in advance was because of the National Park. Superintendent Scott Birch was monitoring the weather pattern and cautioned employees of a possible category 1 cyclone. Ian showed me the forecasts so we did some minor prep work.

Remember my last post? Yup, our plants are safe! Thankfully we moved them inside earlier in the week and downsized on furniture so we had a lot more space in our tiny living room. I actually really like them in the house. I’m channeling my inner Justine Blakely jungalow vibes.

It was just a category 1 by American cyclone standards. Gita came right for us a few hours after hitting our sister island of (western) Samoa as a category 2 by independent Samoa standards. I think we got winds up to 80mph here, directly on my windows that face the lagoon. And I’m still amazed by how powerful it was. I’ve been through a lot worse in the past but this felt so much stronger – probably because I’m right by the ocean and it’s right on my windows.

Also very glad that Ian got these boards the day before the cyclone hit! We initially boarded up our windows from the inside, which turned out to be a dumb idea because the rain eventually seeped through the window and into our house. So just after the worst of Gita had passed, Ian and a couple of our friends and neighbors boarded the windows on the outside. Which was wayyy better.

We had to line our windows with towels to stanch the leaks, but we still found ourselves standing in half an inch of water in our living room (up until the boards went up outside). We did a lot of mopping.

The only really scary part was that our roof started flapping! We were convinced that as soon as one panel came off, the whole roof would just fly off. The ceiling in my room and the bathroom were leaking through gashes in the drywall, so rain was dripping in buckets. I saw my neighbors standing against the wind outside looking at our roof and they gestured to me it was gonna come off. The guys talked it through and next thing I knew they were jumping through our ceiling to access the roof. I don’t know what exactly they were doing but as far as I know, they tied the roof down with ratchet straps and essentially kept the roof from blowing off. This was all DURING the storm. Like right up in the heat of it. I’m so glad they all came back down safely.

Other than the roof, ceiling, and our windows, we were otherwise good. A lot of debris had been tossed around by the wind. The bottom and planks from our railing disappeared.

One of the beach fales got whisked away by a gale and ended up in the ocean.

Our green machine was unscathed (whew!).

Our neighbor Mark, who we share the same roof with, had pretty much the same issues we had – flapping roof and leaks from his ceiling. His were a little worse. The leak in his room wasn’t just dripping into bowls and pots, it was filling a massive cooler full.

Our other neighbors, a Samoan family of 7, were the only ones in our area of Coconut Point who evacuated before the cyclone hit. They came back after the all clear was given in the late afternoon. Rain also flooded their house but their roof was intact and they seemed unfazed by it, smiling and waving like it was a normal day.

All our other friends and neighbors at Coconut Point were unaffected for the most part, which we’re grateful for. That would have messed up our plans to move into one of their houses if our roof got blown away haha.

Another thing I’m grateful for is that Bluesky’s cell service never went down. We lost electricity and water at about 7am, but never lost access to the Internet. I checked the National Weather Service site, and listened to the radio. At about 2pm, Gita was gita’n outta here!! It was originally forecasted that Gita’s eye would pass right over us, but thanks be to God, it swung south and away from the island pretty quickly.

The evening came quick and the sky turned pink. I mumbled to myself, “Red skies at night, sailor’s delight.” I saw it as a gentle reminder from up above that we are all part of a dynamic flow. A natural disaster is just the earth’s way of balancing itself out, right?

I count myself extremely blessed to have weathered the weather with minimal damage. As of today, there are currently about 700+ displaced individuals. Entire families who lost everything in their homes. It’s crazy to think that everything you owned is now gone; even crazier to actually lose it all. BUT. Not a single person was fatally injured. The mountains are still green. And people continue to smile. I love the resilience of this island.

We’re like coconut trees, digging our roots deep in the earth like we are the threads woven into the fabric of this land… and when a cyclone comes along, we’ll sway this way and that but we’ll stand tall and bear more fruit. And those coconuts will do the same and take our place down the line.