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October 23, 2006

Funafuti natives celebrate Hurricane Bebe

34 years ago, on the morning of October 21, 1972 the island of Funafuti was wiped clean except a few concrete houses by Hurricane Bebe that occurred the night before. Very strong winds of 180knots per hour swept through the island pulling off corrugated iron sheets of roofs of many of the houses. Trees were uprooted and practically very dangerous for the islanders, their children and the elderly alike.

They also lost almost everything in their own homes and throughout the night, the able remained standing for hours to hold up tarpaulins to keep elderly and young children of the families dry. There were three deaths after the Hurricane had passed including a baby and two men.

Several families were hunched up together in the few make shift shelters people managed to make as the night rolled through. The Funafuti store had all packaged goods ruined and islanders started taking foodstuff they could carry for their families. This kept them for the following days/weeks as food crops were ruined in the hurricane.

On the same morning 34 years later Funafuti islanders woke up to celebrating festivities in commemorating that dreadful day many years ago. They were happy and looked forward to feasting and dancing with fellow islanders throughout the day.

Traditional dancing were practiced in two separate teams a few weeks back and after a big lunch they set about showing what they worked hard for in the last weeks. The fatele was wonderful to hear and the dancers were so graceful.

On Sunday a special service was conducted at Fetu Ao Lima chapel and survivors of the hurricane were given a chance to reflect back on what happened 34 years ago and tell of their experiences.

Next year when they celebrate 35 years of surviving the Hurricane Bebe, the islanders will surely put up better and more exciting celebrations to mark the day.

Today the island is gathered again at the Tausoa Lima Falekaupule to farewell their island pastor Reverend Fuiono Pita and his family who will leave the island pastor’s premises on the 25th of this month.

More feasting will be had this afternoon and the two teams will also present an alofa (traditional way of giving gifts) each to the pastor and family. Tonight there will also be traditional dancing at the Tausoa Lima Falekaupule.

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?Tino Funafuti fakamanatu tea so te matagi

34 tausaga ko teka I te taeao o te po 21 o Oketopa, 1972 te fenua ko Funafuti ne fulu faka’ma vagana fua ko naai fale puliki, ne te matagi malosi ko te Hurricane Bebe I te po. Te matagi ne oko tena makini ki te 180 knots I te itula tela ne lasi tena fakamaseiga ki te fenua I lakau mo fale nofo o tino. A tuafale o fale ne lele laukaapa I ei pela foki mo lakau ne siga kae ne lasi te fakamataku ki kaiga I tamaliki mo tino matuatua o kaiga taki tasi.

Ne lasi foki te galo o kope totino o kaiga takitasi kae ko tagata mpo fafine malosilosi o kaiga ne tulaki I te po katoa o taofi a kanivesi mo fakamalu ei a tamaliki mo tino matua o kaiga mai te vaiua mo te suaaga o te vai I loto I fale. Mai te matagi tenei ne afaina I ei a ola e tokotolu aofia I ei ko te pepe mo tagata e tokolua.

A kaiga ne maua olotou meakai mai te sitoa o te fenua tela ko lasi te fakamaseiga o ana kakoo.

I te taeao o tea so foki loa tena 34 tausaga mai tua ifo a tino o te fenua ko Funafuti ne ala aka o fiafia o fakamanatu te aso tenei. E uke a kaiga ne fai mo fakafiafiaga mo fakamanatu te aso tenei kae se masani e fai sale I tausaga taki tasi.

A fatele ne fakakoako I potukauga e lua kae ne fakaasi I te tutonu o te Aso Ono tenei ko teka. A fatele ko silia lo ate gali pela foki mo te unumua ko se fuagina.

I te Aso Saa ne fai ei te lotu fakapitoa I te Fetu Ao Lima kae ne tuku te avanoaga ki a latou kola ne ‘sao mai te matagi tenei ke fai olotou molimau ki te fakalavelave ne tupu I te 34 tausaga ko teka.