“When I looked up the water was about two meters above me and I didn’t know what to do with my nephew. When I thought he may have a chance, I just released him, I pushed him up towards the light”.
A harrowing read, as you’d expect, but beautifully and sensitively put together by the author Lani Wendt Young. This is a meticulously researched book published only a year after the Tsunami – in other words, while the memories of the day were still raw for the survivors. It’s hard to ascertain how many people were interviewed for this book but it seems like hundreds – from those who were directly in the path of the Galu Afi – Wave of Fire to those who were a part of the rescue and recovery effort. Sources include first-hand interviews with survivors and emergency and aid workers, as well as material from television and print media, journals, government reports, and seismic, meteorological and geological data.
The book is organised chronologically – an historical foundation is laid first (i.e. what experience the Samoan people had had of Tsunami prior to 2009 and therefore how prepared they were), followed by “The Earthquake”, “Evacuation”, “The Wave”, through to “First Response”, “How will we cope”, “The Hospital”, and so on until the closing chapters of “We Remember the Dead” and “After. Thoughts”. In total there are 25 chapters, each one made up of different voices telling their individual stories.