In 2009, Samoa was hit by a devastating tsunami which killed 187 people and caused SAT 310million (USD 124.04 million) in damage. The tsunami followed an 8.0 magnitude earthquake that occurred 190km from Apia and within 10-20 minutes the tsunami, with reported waves of up-to 11meters, had hit the country. The response by the Government was immediate, quick, and efficient.
40 villages were directly hit by the disaster with 20 completely destroyed as a result and 1 in every 50 Samoan was also directly affected by the disaster.
As a result of the lessons learned from this tsunami a significant amount of work has been done by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), The Disaster Management Office, and the Spatial Information Agency to increase understanding, response, and preparedness for future tsunamis.
A tsunami evacuation map was created by this team which then determined the safe zones and escape routes for communities across the country in case of future tsunami risk. As part of the Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific Project 74 tsunami evacuation sigs, safe zone signs, and information boards have been erected in key priority areas across the country.
Their installation was completed in 2017 by the DMO Team and are now used in conjunction with tsunami siren tests and tsunami drills in schools and communities as part of the agencies community outreach and awareness programmes.