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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Oregon State's Paea relieved to hear family is OK after tsunami

By Special to The Oregonian
October 01, 2009, 8:53PM
Stephen Paea has more than just Arizona State on his mind this week.

Paea, a defensive lineman, has family in the American Samoa and Tonga, where a tsunami killed 119 people Wednesday. Paea's sister and father live in the area, though neither of them were hurt.

"I talked to my sister yesterday (Wednesday) and she said she's doing fine," said Paea, who explained that a small mountain separated his sister's neighborhood from the tsunami. "She lives five minutes away from where it happened. Another earthquake hit them yesterday. Her house is ruined."

Paea's father, Ben, missed the disaster all together though, as he was traveling from California, and delayed his trip home two days. It might have saved his life.

"He was traveling today, so he should get there late tonight or early tomorrow (Friday)," Paea said.

The good news for the Paea clan is that their home was not ruined, but Paea said he worries for all the people he knows in the area.

"I have a lot of friends in that area," he said. "Over there we're all family. If you know someone well there, you call them family."

Paea said he worried in particular for the families with small children who couldn't swim.

D-line coach Joe Seumalo texted Paea when the tsunami hit to ask if Paea's family was OK, which Paea said he appreciated.

"We always have hurricanes," Paea said. "I was there when we had the biggest hurricane and it did a lot of damage. It was scary, but a tsunami's worse."

Here's hoping Paea, and all the other people with loved ones in the American Somoa and Tonga area, can sleep tonight knowing their family and friends are safe. For more on Paea, you can read this report from OSR's Brian Brooks.

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