Holiday on hold to aid Samoans

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The boss of Queenstown’s biggest snow sports event has taken time out of his Samoan holiday to help victims of the island’s devastating tsunami.

Winter Games chief executive Arthur Klap and his wife Lynne arrived in Samoa on September 29 – the day before the 8.3 magnitude earthquake and powerful tsunami rocked the island and killed at least 135 people.

The couple had the post-Games holiday at Lalomanu gifted to them after organising a half-marathon in Samoa last year to fundraise for a new early childhood education teacher.

This time around, the pair were staying at a village on the western end of the island when the earthquake hit. Klap says that area was not as badly hit as the southern coast, where they were planning to go next.

“We watched the tsunami coming in but it was about two metres high where we were. It came up onto the land but only crossed the road.

“We were totally in the middle of it but not in the real scary bits.

“At the village next to us it wiped out all the houses and put boats on the road and the island that we were looking at straight in front of us, Manono, got severely hit.”

The couple immediately went to help at a neighbouring village but they were turned away till after officials had assessed the damage.

“So we went to Savaia for five days and then came back to help in the Red Cross centre in Apia,” he says.
“We just loaded up trucks that were taking water and packages of clothes – the stuff that was coming in for the victims.

“It was pretty minor stuff really but you want to do something to help.”