30 September 2012 | Niuatoputapu, Tonga 15 56.532'S 173 46.103'W
Three years ago today, the island of Niuatoputapu was struck by a tsunami that devestated the surrounding reef and the three villages. Fortunately it hit during the day so villagers were alerted by the unusual activity of the water in the lagoon. They headed inland to higher ground and amazingly only 9 lives were lost.
The rebuilding continues with aid from abroad. I'll post photos of the new village construction when we have internet access. It's sad to see traditional Tongan fales replaced with what I consider lifeless suburban architecture (that's my polite term). We understand that the occupants are happy to have homes again and are very proud but also hear grumbling about the ventilation and other issues. I'll bet that whoever designed them has never lived in this climate.
On our first and only snorkeling outing we saw that the reef was also destroyed by the wave. Very few fish about and they struggle to find shelter among the broken coral. Encouraging signs of new growth are evident, but it will be a long, slow process.
So, life moves on at a Tongan pace here in the Niuas. Posessions lost, but not their beautiful smiles and hospitality.