Waiting for the tsunami

Tawaieta Taupili (59) is sitting at the ground floor by the back door in the government house. Her husband doesn’t want to go upstairs. Ten meters from the glass doors of the brick house is the lagoon and behind that, the open sea.

•    I want to sit here and be the first one to take the waves, Tawaietas husband says.

He is an old seaman and used to the sea, but now he is walking on crutches.

•    I think he feels better down here, Taiwaieta says. Here he can move around himself, upstairs he will be trapped.

Taiwaieta is here with three grandchildren and two of her daughters. She is scared, but mostly concerned about the young children.

•    I have one 5 year old, a girl at three and a baby that is only nine months old, she says.

Taiwaieta has made sure that her children and grandchildren are safe on the second floor. She has spread the traditional pandanus mat and plans to spend the night at the government house.

•    My son came and informed us about the tsunami. He said that the wave would hit at 1.30 am, but now it is 1.50 am already…I don’t know when it is going to hit.

•    I took three of my lava lava (piece of material that you wrap around like a skirt) and packet three bags of food and water, tea and dry biscuits. My son was laughing of me, but I wanted to be sure that we would have enough, says Taiwaieta.

Taiwaieta says that she is scared, but that she thinks that it might not be too big since Japan is so far away.

•    I don’t have experiences with tsunamis, but I have been hearing about stories from the Indian ocean and Samoa in 2009. I pray to God that it wont´ come, she says.

The tsunami alarm was called off on Tuvalu around 3 am in the morning. No wave hit Funafuti, the capital city. A man passing by our lodge said that two small waves hit the most northern island Nanumea, but that there was no damage done.

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