Work To Clear American Samoa Landslide, Repair Road Could Take Months

Massive slip between Malota and Fagamalo blocked off access to western part of Tutuila island

By Blue Chen-Fruean

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, May 23, 2017) – It’s been two weeks since the massive landslide between Malota and Fagamalo blocked off access to the western most part of the island and while crew members from the Department of Public Works (DPW) have continued to work on clearing the road so motorists can pass through, residents there say it is something that can’t be ‘fixed’ overnight.

Longtime Malota resident Donna Gurr who spoke to Samoa News yesterday, praises the efforts of the DPW crew, whom she says have been at the site continuously, trying to address the situation but she added that “it could take months for everything to get fixed.”

According to Mrs. Gurr, the area in question was “the last place we thought would slide.” She said mud continues to come down from the mountainside and flow towards the stream next to their house.

“People need to be extremely careful when passing the area and I would advise everyone to stay away, unless they have to pass by for emergency reasons,” Gurr cautioned.

“Overtime, as it rains, the mud continues to flow downward and the stream washes the debris towards the ocean so it’s not only dangerous, it is also causing so much damage to the ecosystem - the coral reefs, the ocean water, etc.”

“DPW has done an amazing job and the workers still come back to check up on things but the landslide was so massive that it could be some time before everything can be cleared up,” Gurr said. DPW equipment is still parked at the site and the while the road is no longer blocked off, Gurr said the hazardous conditions remain.

“Drivers can get past but it’s still very dangerous because we don’t know when another slide will occur,” she continued. “My advice would be to avoid going down there until such time that the soil dries up.”

Mrs. Gurr and her family reside not far from the landslide site and she said her concern is for the school children of Fagamalo - who attend Alataua Elementary and Leone High School - and those who have to drive back and forth into town for work.

“A picture can’t capture the depth or height of the mountain, or the seriousness of the mudslide,” Gurr said.

“We’re very fortunate that nobody got hurt when the landslide occurred. We should be very thankful for that,” she concluded.

A headcount of the Fagamalo residents was conducted recently by government officials — following the landslide — and everyone has been accounted for.

The Samoa News
Copyright © 2017. The Samoa News. All Rights Reserved

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