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American Samoa Reeling After Hurricane Val

December 11, 1991

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (AP) _ Hurricane Val roared out to the open South Pacific on Tuesday after smashing buildings, ravaging crops and washing out roads in this U.S. territory, officials said. Virtually all electricity and water remained out.

The storm was blamed for one death in American Samoa, a man who was found dead in the rubble of his collapsed house. Earlier, it killed one person in neighboring Western Samoa, an independent republic.

The storm hit the territory of 42,000 residents 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii late Monday. It ripped down utility lines including telephone wires, leaving cellular telephones the only way to communicate between the main island of Tutuila and outer islands, said Rosemary Chamberlin of the government-run television station KVZK.

The territory remained almost completely without electricity and water and nearly 1,000 people remained in emergency shelters, Chamberlin said. The hurricane did widespread damage to buildings in American Samoa and to taro, bread fruit and banana crops, staples of the local diet, she said.

The LBJ Medical Center’s surgery room and chapel were destroyed.

The storm picked up forward speed Tuesday. At 8 a.m. it was traveling east- southeast at about 9 mph, with sustained winds of 90 mph and gusts to 140 mph, said Roy Matsuta of the National Weather Service in Honolulu.

The storm was about 30 miles southwest of the territory’s tiny Rose Island, Matsuta said, and was forecast to slow as it moved out to the mostly empty sea.

Authorities estimated damage from Hurricane Val at three times that of tropical Hurricane Ofa, which hit the Samoan islands in February 1990. The storms are hurricanes, not cyclones, because they are east of the International Date Line.

In Western Samoa, authorities reported extensive damage after the storm struck Friday and said a lineman for an electric utility was killed when high wind knocked him into live wires in the capital of Apia.

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