Tsunami escape routes have popped up along the coast of Samoa following the devastating tsunami in 2009.
The sparkling waters and white sand beckon visitors to Samoa's Lalomanu Beach, named by Lonely Planet as one of the top 10 beaches in the world.
But tourists increasingly take another stop before hitting the beach, checking out the tsunami escape routes which have popped up along the coast following a devastating tsunami in 2009 that claimed nearly 200 lives in Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga.
Sharon Lundy reports:
New Zealand teacher Kane is among the guests at Litia Sini Beach Resort on Lalomanu Beach with his wife and young children watching local villagers perform a fiafia. They're staying in a fale on the beach and he says he's not worried by the possibility of a tsunami such as that in 2009, which claimed 143 lives in Samoa alone. But he admits the family has checked out one of the newly developed escape routes starting to dot the coast.
KANE: With wee kids you start not thinking about yourself so as soon as you come here you start looking at where the signs are for the higher grounds and first day we came here, we checked out the route and it's good to see recently in the last couple of days, I've seen them over there working on one of the ramps.
South African-born New Zealander Joseph Walden is staying at the Taufua Beach Fales and says he's not too worried about staying near the beach. It's not because he's blase about the possibility of another tsunami hitting - it's because he feels he'll know what to do as he survived the 2009 one. He's keen to share his knowledge with as many people he can.
JOSEPH WALDEN: At least next time I'll know what to do and I try to tell the story, I try to tell as many people as I can, that if there's a tsunami or earthquake don't sit and wait for the waves like a lot of people do, and if there's a tsunami warning they sit and go down to the beach with their kids instead of just going to higher ground. That's all you have to do, you don't have to run but just slowly move up to higher grounds because you just never know.
Joseph Walden was staying at Taufua with wife Tracy and sons Joshua and Scott, then 13 and 10, when the wave hit. He, Tracy and Scott bush bashed their way to safety but it was to be five hours before he saw Joshua again and says the event has changed his life.
JOSEPH WALDEN: Completely, then I was very business orientated and family was there, it was first but business was probably always there and I couldn't go to the kids sport and since then really business [inaudible] is nothing for me now compared to what you go through in an emergency like we've been in so it has changed my life.
The Auckland businessman has returned to Taufua every year since the tsunami and says he plans to keep coming back until the coral has regenerated, which is expected to take about another 25 years. Lydia Toomalatai runs the Litia Sini resort with husband Joseph and says she's surprised at how quickly the tourists returned. Her late parents set up the resort but the tsunami reduced it to a concrete platform. She rebuilt with the help of Aucklanders Dave and Leigh Smith and reopened less than a year after it hit.
LYDIA TOOMALATAI: I had to open, I'd ran out of money, 12 months without income was hard, it was so difficult but less than a year later we reopened. I thought that people won't come back quickly after but I was so surprised, I was amazed with the number of people who came back pretty much straight away.
Lydia Toomalatai's mother-in-law and 14 other family members died in the tsunami and she says it took her six months to feel comfortable leaving her house after dark. But she no longer fears the possibility of another deadly wave.
LYDIA TOOMALATAI: I don't fear it anymore, if it's going to happen let it be, I'm not going to run because I may not die from it but I may die from running up there you know [laughter]. It's something that I think every Samoan now is aware of, a little shake happens, you see them run.
She says people are alert to the danger posed by natural disasters now, and that's something she welcomes.
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