The purpose of this blog has always been to simply keep family and friends back home up to date on our adventure here. Normally that means lots of pictures of tropical beaches and stories about snorkeling, hiking, and our battle against termites. Yesterday I started posting updates about Cyclone Wilma with those same few folks in mind, but ended up writing for a much larger audience than ever before.
American Samoa is a tiny place, but there are people all over the world who share a connection to it. Whether they’re from here, have family or friends here, or have lived here in the past, there are at least as many people who care about American Samoa while living elsewhere as there are residents of the territory. It turns out I was one of the few people posting live updates of the cyclone while it was happening. Hundreds of people I’ve never met were reading my blog to keep up with what Wilma was doing to our island. I had more visitors yesterday than I had over the previous month combined, and I’m really glad I was able to report that there have been no deaths or serious injuries despite a fair bit of property damage.
As if that weren’t enough, Michael Perry (in my opinion the best Wisconsin author since Aldo Leopold) linked to my blog this morning. I had emailed him a couple of months ago just to say that I really liked his books and that I thought he might get a kick out of my story about the truck we bought here. He sent me a very nice response, then yesterday emailed me again to let me know he’d be posting a link to “The Story of a Truck” on his blog.
If you’re not familiar with Michael Perry’s work, check out his blog at sneezingcow.com, read his books, and go see him if he comes to give a talk at your local library or bookstore.
Suddenly becoming an on-the-scene reporter and having so many strangers read my writing has been a little intimidating and very humbling. It feels good, though, to know that I was able to reassure worried friends and relatives of people I’ve never met that the storm wasn’t a life-threatening event and their loved ones were more than likely OK, despite being a little damp and wind-blown.
Here’s the latest view from space:
As the official Cyclone Wilma approaches the islands of Tonga, its tail of monsoonal trough (if I were to start a band here I’d pretty much have to call it Monsoonal Trough) appears intent on hanging around the Samoan Islands for a while. The difference between a cyclone and a monsoonal trough may be important to a meteorologist, but for those of us here on the ground the two are pretty much identical. We’re facing at least another day of torrential rain and wind gusts over 70 mph. I’ll try to continue posting updates of storm damage around the island as well as our general predicament.
The good news is that schools have been closed, so I don’t have to go to work today. Unfortunately the High Court is still in session so Mary isn’t so lucky.
Here’s a video of what Cyclone Wilma looked like from our front door:
Today looks pretty much the same.