Masae Fanene, a 29-year-old who grew up in Anchorage, lost nine extended family members in the tsunami that pounded Samoa and American Samoa last week.
Her father, the family's high chief, must now fly to an oceanside village to help rebuild, she said Sunday. Younger members of her Samoan Seventh-day Adventist Church, meantime, are ready to volunteer to aid relatives 5,000 miles away.
"Some of our youth members have signed up on the Red Cross list to see if they need help overseas," Fanene said. "We're ready to just drop whatever we're doing and go help out."
It's been a week of agonizing phone calls and prayer for many in Alaska's Samoan community, with the estimated death toll from Tuesday's earthquake and tsunami approaching 200 people.
Thousands of Pacific Islanders came to Anchorage in the 1990s from Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga and other states — building a bridge of family connections between the Alaska city and island villages. A prayer service Friday night drew 20 pastors and as many as 200 people, said Pastor Matauaina "Moe" Tali of the Revival Assembly of God.
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