Isle workers, supplies aid tsunami victims


POSTED: Thursday, October 01, 2009

PAGO PAGO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, AMERICAN SAMOA » Emergency supplies from Hawaii are due to be distributed this morning in Pago Pago and the village of Leone in the aftermath of a cataclysmic tsunami.

A Hawaiian Airlines 767 landed just before sunset yesterday carrying relief supplies, workers and a desire to help.

Hawaiian Airlines volunteer workers from Hawaii and American Samoa helped unload about 40,000 pounds of water, canned goods, flashlights, rice, toilet paper and other supplies. There are about 35 company workers, including Hawaiian Air President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Dunkerley, who flew down to help distribute the supplies from Hawaii.

The flight also carried Federal Emergency Management Agency workers, members of the Hawaii Medical Disaster Assistance Team and Coast Guard service members.




In Church


Prayer service planned tonight

        The public is invited to a prayer service today for the victims of the tsunami that hit Samoa and American Samoa earlier this week.

The service starts at 7 p.m. at the Lighthouse Outreach Center in Waipahu, 94-230 Leokane St. Parking is available at the center. Call 680-0823.


Two dozen local community leaders planned the prayer service and are also planning to send aid to Samoa and an upcoming vigil.




St. Andrew's collects aid

        St. Andrew's Cathedral will send aid to the victims of the three recent natural disasters.

All offerings at yesterday's 5:30 p.m. Taize Prayer service will be dedicated to the relief efforts and to aid churches hit by the floods in the Philippines, the tsunami in Samoa and the earthquake in Indonesia.


Special collections are being taken Sunday morning at the Holy Eucharist services and a special noon pet blessing Sunday, St. Francis Day.


The cathedral is dedicating its Sunday Choral Evensong service and offering special prayers for those hit by the tragedies.


Those wishing to contribute may also send checks to: “;Episcopal Relief and Development,”; Cathedral of St. Andrew, 229 Queen Emma Square, Honolulu 96813.




Among the passengers was Petaia Timoteo, who came to search for his 76-year-old mother, Timoto. She was at work at a senior citizens center Tuesday morning in the village of Fagatogo when the tsunami struck. She didn't return home.

Timoteo fears the worst.

“;There was a lot of damage,”; he said. His father searched hospitals Tuesday night in vain.

But Timoteo, a pastor at Trinity Samoan Congregational Church, said he is not just here to search. He also wants to help and is volunteering with the distribution of supplies.

Hawaiian Air flight attendant Joe Fano would normally be working on the Pago Pago flight scheduled to leave Honolulu this afternoon. Instead, he volunteered to help distribute relief supplies.

“;My heart was heavy all day yesterday,”; Fano said.

His family in Pago Pago is safe. But, Fano said, “;it's hard to celebrate that when you know other people are hurting.”;

Fano said he and his family have been through two hurricanes in American Samoa, but his relatives said the tsunami damage is much worse.

“;They've never seen anything like this,”; he said. “;This is horrific.”;

Dunkerley said the airline and Bank of Hawaii, which has offices in American Samoa, spent about $20,000 on relief supplies and the company volunteers expected to spend the night sorting and packing the supplies for delivery this morning. Webco, Walmart, and City Mill also donated food and other items.

Toby Clairmont, leader of the Hawaii Medical Disaster Assistance Team, said they also brought medical supplies like drugs, bandages and splints. Clairmont said about 13 members of his group are in American Samoa assisting the LBJ Tropical Medical Center and clinics on the island.

At the airport, Hawaiian Airlines worker Joan Peteo said she spent Monday night at an uncle's house instead of in her home village of Leone. She woke up a little late Tuesday morning and then felt the earthquake.

She found out later that Leone was hit by the tsunami and that several people, including three aunts, died.

“;If I didn't sleep at his house (her uncle's), I would have been caught,”; she said.

One of her aunts was among six elders who woke up early every morning and met at the Fale Samoa in her village next to the water. Everyone waved to them on their way to work, she said.

“;They were all lost.”;

Peteo said she has relatives in Honolulu and many have called to check up on her. “;I tell them, 'Send your prayers. Thank you for sending your prayers.'”;