Ian and his daughter.
Sesa To'omalatai had been at the big house with her son Ian when the wave came. He was making breakfast for his parents and did not see the wave until it was too late. “I could see people panicking and running but I didn’t know why. I saw people pointing out to the sea, they were saying that a wave is coming. But I wasn’t paying attention and then it was like the wave was boiling over and I got such a fright. It wasn’t even thirty seconds and the wave hit us where we were standing at the back of the house by the kitchen. My wife was carrying our daughter and I caught hold of my mother. The wave hit and destroyed everything. We all went together out to the sea, I grabbed a tree branch and hung on to it with my mother while my wife and daughter were taken far away. We were floating in the sea and I was trying to pull us in because I could see we were drifting further and further out, so I tried to pull us more towards the land. Another wave came and that’s when my mother slipped from my grip, the wave took her. I ended up stuck on the seawall but my mother had gone. My wife and daughter made it to the roadside near the church. People from the village came to help. We looked for my mother and we found her at the back of our house. I wasn’t badly injured, but my mother was dead.”
Sesa was the only person killed at Vailoa village. She was seventy years old and the mother of ten children. Ian’s little girl is named after her grandmother. He holds her gently with huge hands and cries in the afternoon sun as carpenters hammer and saw, rebuilding the petrol station