CWS appeals for Tonga after Cyclone Gita
Christian World Service has launched an appeal
to assist Tongan communities affected by Cyclone Gita.
The category four storm hit Tongatapu and ‘Eua overnight on February 12 causing extensive damage. Power lines, trees and
buildings including Parliament House were flattened by winds that reached 233 km/hour and heavy rain.
Authorities report 70% of the population have been affected. Most families are salvaging what they can and carrying out
immediate repairs. Surface flooding is expected to clear, but the threat of Dengue fever remains. Root crops and fruit
trees have been badly damaged or destroyed. Tongans are working hard to clear roads and restore infrastructure including
power and water supply.
The Tongan Government declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the cyclone and the National Emergency Management
Office (NEMO) is coordinating the response. The New Zealand government is helping to assess the situation and delivered
the first relief supplies on 14 February.
“People will have food for the first days from their own supplies and fallen fruit but then will need help to get
through. Shelter and safe water are major concerns. We want to make sure no one misses out,” says Pauline McKay from
CWS is working through the ACT Alliance (Action by Churches Together) of which it is a member and the Tonga National
Council of Churches. In anticipation of the storm local churches opened halls and other buildings for those needing
shelter. ACT Alliance will deploy a staff member to Tonga when flights to Tonga resume.
CWS long-term partner Tonga Community Development Trust has reported staff are safe and initially are looking after
their families and neighbourhoods. CWS has helped prepare for such a disaster through its training programmes on
disaster risk reduction with Ama Takiloa women’s groups and disaster preparedness with the National Emergency Management
Office. CWS expects the Trust will assist in the recovery phase: the repair of rainwater harvesting systems and the
reestablishment of home and community gardens – areas of particular expertise.
Rev Setaita Kinahoi Veikune, Director of Pasifika Ministries of the Methodist Church in New Zealand is encouraging
support for families and communities. “The news over the last 48 hours has bought the cyclone devastation in the Pacific
very close to home and to our hearts. Please make a generous donation,” she says.
The cyclone tracked through the low-lying islands of Ono-i-Lau and Vatoa in Fiji’s southern Lau group overnight on
February 13. The clean-up continues in American Samoa and Samoa where Gita hit earlier as a category three storm.
Donations can be made:
•On line to the Cyclone Gita Appeal
and by direct deposit
•By Phone with a credit card: 0800 74 73 72
•By Post to: CWS, PO Box 22652, Christchurch 8140
CWS is a member of ACT Alliance
a global coalition of more than 145 churches and church-related organisations working together on humanitarian,
development and advocacy in over 100 countries.