An Australian volunteer who was doing whatever volunteers do in PNG.
I was there for 2 years until Dec 2005 .. I hope I made the most of it.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Port Moresby On Alert

Here is a humorous little story that I received, via Larissa, from another AVIer, Mark, in Moresby. Mark is the manager for the city mission down there.

This is very recent, as it all happened in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
I just had to let you know about my latest head shaking episode. I just love it. Port Moresby has a lot of villages and settlements along the coast. Houses built on stilts over the water, thousands of people live this way. Now around this time of year, the tidal changes are more extreme, don't ask me why, they just are. Well around 2am this morning, the tide went out quite a long way. Someone from within the village has noticed this and put 2 and 2 together and got 5. Obviously it's a tsunami. Have you ever been in the water when someone yells "SHARK!!!" no one stops to confirm the validity of this statement, everyone just makes a mad dash for the land. Well the same thing happened here, its just taken one person to say "a tsunami's coming, look, the waters gone!" and 3 villages in a matter of ½ hour were cleared out.

At 2am this morning literally a thousand people had grabbed their belongings, piled into cars or ran up the hill past City Mission. Men, women, children, the elderly, dogs, everyone and everything. It was a mass evacuation. The boys from City Mission decide to go down to the village (only 200-300 meters away) to inspect this, sure the tide was out a long way, but what was even stranger was a completely empty village. The whole village had been woken up and whipped into a panic as they fled up the hill. Not only this village, the next 2 villages along the coast had done the same thing (aaahhh don't we love the power of the mobile phone). People from this village had called friends from the next village and told them about the approaching tsunami. Thus also whipping that village into a frenzy.

For the next 2 hours, people were ringing the City Mission asking for updates on if the wave has hit. By 4am the tide was slowly working its way back in again. But it took until 6am for the majority of people to feel safe enough to come back.

Now before I get emails of complaints, No, I am not making light of the terrible disaster that recently occurred. This is a separate incident and no one was injured (except for maybe pride and rest). So please, just treat this as it is, a slightly humorous example of how the masses can be so easily led by the few.
Thought I would share it on here - before L does on her blog :P. She does have some great pics of Hanuabada, one of these villages built over the top of the harbour.