Event to raise funds for Samoans rebuilding after tsunami, quake | SteamboatToday.com

Event to raise funds for Samoans rebuilding after tsunami, quake

Mike Lawrence

A local volunteer sports trainer is hosting a fundraiser Saturday to benefit the people of his native Samoan islands, who are rebuilding after a devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Sept. 29.

Steamboat Springs resident Pio Utu owns Strong Arm Cleaners and Strong Arm Security and has worked with young athletes in the area for more than 25 years. He said fortunately, every member of his vast extended family in Samoa is safe after the disaster last month. But many Samoans are not so fortunate. More than 110 people were killed by the earthquake and tsunami, which left vast swaths of property damage and shattering loss across the islands. Utu said his sister, Sose, and his brother-in-law, Fono Fepulea’i, are working on relief efforts in Samoa with an international Christian charity group, Youth With a Mission.

Fepulea’i told Utu that the situation in Samoa is “chaos” as the islands approach cyclone season.

In a Sept. 30 e-mail to family and friends, Fepulea’i wrote of the disasters’ aftermath.

“It was such a sad scene as the villages directly hit by the tsunami, which are mainly on the main island of Upolu, have been totally devastated. Nothing left except rocks and debris. Churches, schools, homes, etc., all destroyed,” Fepulea’i wrote. “The government of Samoa is presently still in the first phase of the disaster trying to find as many bodies as they can and supplying the most immediate needs – shelter, food, medicine and water – for the affected villagers. The second phase of rebuilding will be soon.”

That second phase is now under way. Fepulea’i said an incredible amount of work lies ahead.

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“This is going to be a long-term effort after the two to three weeks of the adrenalin initial stage of tsunami relief,” he wrote in an Oct. 8 e-mail, describing Youth With a Mission efforts. “Our YWAM base in Samoa is now the base of some of the medical teams and other relief agencies coming from overseas. : We have been taking chainsaws we were able to find to clear land for people so they can build temporary or permanent homes for their families. Please note that Samoa is not like America where people afford machinery to clear land. Samoa is a different story. So we have to provide the best possible help we can to best serve them.”

Saturday’s event is 5 to 8:30 p.m. at Steamboat Springs High School. Utu said plans include a luau with “smoked pigs and turkeys,” door prizes and entertainment. Tickets cost $15 for those 12 or older, or a $10 suggested donation for those younger than 12. Tickets are available at Freshies and All That Jazz.

Utu said volunteers are needed to help with event publicity, hosting, ticket sales, prize contribution and more. Call Utu at 846-9064 or Luther Berntson at 870-9675 for details. Donations can be made to the Samoan Tsunami Relief Fund at Alpine Bank, 1901 Pine Grove Road in Steamboat Springs.

If you go

What: Benefit dinner, prizes and entertainment to raise funds for residents of Samoa, who are rebuilding after the Sept. 29 tsunami and earthquake. Relief funds will go to Youth With a Mission workers in Samoa.

When: 5 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Steamboat Springs High School

Cost: $15 for those 12 and older, $10 suggested donation for those younger than 12

To help: Volunteers are needed to help with event publicity, hosting, ticket sales, prize contribution and more. Call Pio Utu at 846-9064 or Luther Berntson at 870-9675 for details.

To give: Donations can be made to the Samoan Tsunami Relief Fund at Alpine Bank, 1901 Pine Grove Road in Steamboat Springs.