Cyclone Wilma

Here in Samoa the threat of a cyclone is taken seriously.   So when whispers spread of impending doom people seek out the most knowledgeable people, Peace Corps Volunteers.  Somehow we get our weather forecasts a solid 2 – 3 days earlier than the Samoan public.  The earliest predictions said the storm would get to us late Thursday evening.  In reality the storm didn’t get to our area of the islands until Sunday.  Summing up Cyclone Wilma, lame.  Rain … where?  Gale force wind … I fart harder than the breezes that came.  However, we prepared our house and belongings just the same as every single Samoan family did.

First we collected coconut palms.  They are heavy, but do not catch the wind very well.  So they are far more effective for holding your roof down than say a cinderblock, which is a BAD idea.  Tires and car batteries, although heavy, are also bad ideas as they can bounce off and crush something on their way down.  While the coconut palms were being braided over the peak of the roof, we covered over some of our curtain-less windows that are prone to leaking.

After securing the house, it was time to move EVERYTHING indoors.  While we had a fair amount of things on our porch that had to come in, the real challenge was getting the plants ready.   Most of our plants were still in egg crates, which in actual gale force winds would be blown to smithereens.   We spent a good deal of time transplanting into large containers and beds.

On Friday evening, it seemed like we were in for it.  There had been a strong enough wind to fly a kite all day long with clouds moving in.  Then, in the late afternoon, the wind died, all got quiet, and the sky turned a color that is not commonly seen.

We were ready and excited.  We stayed up waiting for something happen.  We went to bed disappointed.  Nothing happened that night, or Saturday, or Sunday.  Granted this was only a category 1 cyclone at the time, it was lamer than lame.  On Sunday we got a word that the cyclone had passed.  We muttered to ourselves “better safe than sorry” and went on disappointed.

It seems the story should end there, but somehow it doesn’t.  Monday morning rolled around and Karen asked me to go for a run with her.  It had been drizzling a little bit, which is normal weather for this time of year.  Half way through our little 2.5 mile run it started to rain.  By the time we got home it was a steady strong rain.  Not very windy, but the raindrops were like little bombs that landed with a splash.  Since we were already wet, we decided to keep working outside.  After 45 minutes or so, the rain got stronger and a chill had set over us.  Soon the wind picked up and water was blowing all over the place.

During one of the lulls in the rain, I got this picture of our front yard transformed into a river.

Right now it is 8:26 am on Tuesday in Western Samoa and it is still raining with the same ferocity.  It turns out that there is a convergence zone behind the now category 3 cyclone Wilma.  This lovely convergence zone has decided that Samoa is a nice place to live and is going to stay put for a while.  Cabin fever is setting in, but at least we didn’t do all of the work on the house for nothing.

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2 Responses to Cyclone Wilma

  1. Glad Wilma ended up being a rain event and that you and Karen are safe! We were a bit nervous here. 😀

  2. mike kaplan says:

    Dave – Because I have a son, Matt 82 on S’avaii, I check the Samoan websites often. Matt of recently departed Group 81 was a terrific blogger in that he posted often and provided good insight in to the culture. You’re good too. It enables us back in the States to better understand your experience. So keep it up. And when your term of service is up they’ll be searching for the next “Dave”.
    Peace. Mike Kaplan, RPCV, Philippines, 1966-1968.

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