CARSON, Calif. — Scores from
California's Samoan community - many with traditional white flowers in
their hair and clutching woven fans - gathered in church Thursday to
pray for family members in tsunami-ravaged Samoa - some still waiting
to hear from them.
left, hugs Aina Lualemaga as they arrive for a prayer service in
Carson, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009 for the victims of earthquake
and tsunami that hit the Samoas.
the sweltering Samoan Congregational Christian Church in Carson,
Calif., roughly 200 people joined in a special twilight service in the
aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that have left at
least 160 dead.
Lusi Timai, 44, has been trying to reach her
aunts and cousins in American Samoa since the tsunami hit Tuesday but
can't get through.
"We just pray... we just come here to pray for them," she said, clutching the cell phone she's been using to call.
urban sprawl south of Los Angeles is a hub for the Samoan community and
ground zero for coordination of relief efforts that local community
leaders are getting underway.
About 40 percent of the country's 72,000 Samoans live in California, according to data from the 2008 American Community Survey.
the hours since the tsunami, local community leaders have fielded a
stream of calls from Samoans frantically trying to reach their
relatives. They also formed a network of clergy, community leaders and
non-profits to harnass and transport donations of canned food, water,
tarps and other necessities to the affected regions.
church on Thursday, local politicians offered to do what they could to
help the communities in American Samoa and Samoa. Inside, the faithful
belted out spiritual Christian songs to a band's music and batted
themselves with fans to stay cool.
Aitofi Muaina, 62, came to
pray for her 94-year old aunt who holed up on the second floor of her
house in American Samoa while the ocean waters rushed in below.
"She's alive. It's all that counts," said Muaina, who traveled from Las Vegas for the service. "It's a miracle."
Posted on Fri, October 2, 2009
by By AMY TAXIN Associated Press Writer