Hurricane lashing American Samoa
|•||Satellite images of Hurricane Olaf|
|•||Latest forecasts for American Samoa|
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa Heavy showers and thundershowers associated with Hurricane Olaf moved over the island of Tutuila last night, causing widespread flooding of low-lying areas, the National Weather Service said.
Authorities set up emergency shelters and shut down schools, government offices and the airport yesterday as the "extremely dangerous" storm zeroed in on American Samoa.
In Honolulu, Chaminade University freshman Leifiloa Tanoi talked to her mother, who is in Fagatogo, last night about 10:30 Hawai'i time.
"She says some houses had collapsed and some had lost roofs and that there's a lot of branches on the roads," Tanoi said. "It's very hazardous and we're worried about my dad. He's a bus driver for special education and is out helping with the evacuations."
Gov. Togiola Tulafono declared a state of emergency and asked President Bush to issue a disaster declaration in anticipation of damage. Residents boarded up homes, businesses and church buildings in preparation.
The storm, with 160 mph winds and higher gusts near its center, was generating giant waves that were expected to cause flooding in low-lying areas, the National Weather Service said.
The storm was about 100 miles north-northwest of Pago Pago last night, moving to the southeast at 10 mph. But forecasters said the hurricane was expected to change track to come within 60 miles of Pago Pago today.
The storm was expected to pass close to the three Manua islands, home to about 2,000 islanders, they said.
Tutuila and other islands could expect hurricane-force winds of at least 74 mph through today, forecasters said.
Authorities began evacuating residents from coastal and low-lying areas to about 60 emergency shelters set up at schools and church halls around the territory.
People stocked up on canned food, bottled water and flashlights. The three hardware stores in Pago Pago ran out of plywood and generators yesterday. The Samoa News did not plan to publish an edition today.
The American Samoa Power Authority planned to cut electricity to most of the territory once winds reached 70 mph, with power remaining to the LBJ Medical Center and the emergency management office, officials said.
The last major hurricane to hit the area was Heta, which plowed through American Samoa and neighboring Samoa in January 2004.
Advertiser staff writer Rod Ohira contributed to this report.