Friday, October 2, 2009

Tonga/Samoa Tsunami update

Here's a quick update on the tsunami damage here in Tonga in Niuatoputapu, which is very far north of us here, closer to Samoa than it is to the island group of Vava'u. There are about 1,000 people living on that island, and 2 of the 3 villages were severely damaged, demolishing about 90% of homes, and damaging the hospital, the airport runway, schools, banks, etc. They were hit by 3 tsunami waves, on the news it says up to 6 meters high, and the death toll is up to 9 in Nuiatoputapu and 150 total including Tonga, Samoa, and American Samoa. Niuatoputapu just recieved the first wave of aid yesterday, the Tongan National Defense sent up a boat with supplies. This island is usually very isolated - a boat only goes about once a month, and planes began landing just recently once a week. Because of the isolation no Peace Corps volunteers are stationed there. After this disaster all phone communications were cut off, and planes weren't able to land on the damaged runway. Our neighbor Ana's mom is living on this island in the most damaged village. She hasn't been able to get a hold of her, but found out yesterday that her name wasn't on the hospital list so she should be ok. A lot of news is available online on the Samoa tsunami damage so I won't list that here.

Here in Ha'apai things are pretty much back to normal - we just had damaged boats in the harbour, it was really a baby tsunami here luckily. The boat we were supposed to take today to Ha'afeva on a week-long island trip has a hole in it from the tsunami. The ministry of education shifts all the teachers around during the class 6 school exams, so we were going to this island with Brett's teacher. So they've delayed the exam for a week, we might go next week.

Here is a photo of some of the damage in Niuatoputapu.


Heta said...

Thanks for the Pangai info. Could you give me an update on Ha'ano? My family are there and I can't get through on the phone... Malo 'Aupito!

Kate and Brett said...

Yes, we have a volunteer in Ha'ano, he saw the water receed there too and then swell back up in a few big waves, but says it sounded worse in Pangai in the harbour here. So Ha'ano is fine, no damage or anything. Really the only place in Tonga to experience a lot of damage was Niuatoputapu.

T said...

Hey Brett and Katie.

Glad to hear you are all alright. After hearing about the tsunami, I immediately asked your dad (Pastor Mark) if you guys were ok. We are praying for you here at DLC. Let us know if we can do anything. Take care. God bless!