In response to Cyclone Gita, The Salvation Army is launching an appeal to help support the people of Tonga, Fiji and Samoa.
On Tuesday 13 February Tonga was hit by Cyclone Gita, described as the worst storm to hit the island nation in 60 years. Winds reached up to 278kmh, devastating buildings, cutting power to large areas of the country and leaving 33 people injured. About 70 per cent of the population has been affected by the cyclone and key buildings have been destroyed.
Later that day, Cyclone Gita hit the southern islands of Fiji. The storm had already passed through Samoa leaving thousands without power and water. A state of emergency has been declared there.
The Salvation Army's six corps (churches) in Tonga opened their doors to families forced from their homes during and after the storm and have been hard at work helping with the clean-up—providing shelter, safe food and water and helping patch up homes.
Around 3000 people have been sheltering in evacuation centres and the Army is also working with the government of Tonga to assess the best response for both urgent needs and the long-term rebuilding.
The Salvation Army has been serving the people of Tonga for almost 33 years and Regional Commander Captain Sila Siufanga says the Army's commitment is to support people through the emergency and help the people of Tonga come back stronger and more resilient for the future. 'The storm has come and the clean-up will be hard. But we know in the islands, after the storm the clouds will clear and the sun will come back, and we're working to help that happen for all Tongans.'
The Salvation Army has a long-standing history of work in Fiji, including being heavily involved in the response to Cyclone Winston in 2016, and is in the process of establishing work in Samoa. We are working with the governments of both nations to see how we can assist their people through the emergency and in the many months and years of rebuilding afterwards.
Donations in support of those affected by Cyclone Gita can be made to The Salvation Army Pacific Emergency Fund.
You can either make a one-off donation online (please specify ‘Cyclone Gita’ and/or the region you'd like to support in the Comments section), or go to www.salvationarmy.org.nz/pacificemergencyfund to see other ways you can support The Salvation Army's work to help those affected by this disaster.