Friday, October 2, 2009

Valley Families Check on Samoa Relatives

Three young men from American Samoa -- football teammates at West Hills College in Coalinga -- were among those anxious to hear whether their families and homes survived the earthquake and tsunami.

They talked to family members Wednesday morning. Most of their families are safe, but Ronnie Faimoa lost his grandmother.

"I'm sad and I feel sorry for my island," said Faimoa, 18, from the village of Fagatogo. His grandmother lived on an island in Western Samoa.

Lauolo Tuala, 18, also from Fagatogo, said his parents were taking his younger brother and sister to school when the earthquake hit. "They all ran back home," Tuala said. Because the village is on a hillside, his home escaped damage from the tsunami.

Chester Faiai, 18, said his village, Matu'u, was destroyed. "But my family is safe," he said. His parents grabbed his younger sister and brother and other family members and ran up hill to safety.

"It's the first time a hard-shaking earthquake that big has hit Samoa," he said.

The Fresno-Madera Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross is sending three volunteers to Samoa, said director Ellen Knapp.

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