On January 11, 2014 Tonga was hit with their first Category 5 Cyclone in documented history.
At the time I was still in New Zealand receiving updates from friends on the island as well as watching online news sources for the latest information (It's interesting to note that both were saying very different things - but I'll save that story for some other time). At one point the eye of the storm (which was very narrow) was set to not only hit my island, but the village in which I am located.
As we know, weather can be unpredictable and Cyclone Ian was just that. Instead of hitting Vava'u it veered south and hit the Ha'apai Island group (the middle group of islands in Tonga) directly.
We have two volunteers serving on Ha'apai and they were luckily at a training on the main island when Cyclone Ian hit. Their houses were both destroyed and 80-90% of the islands are completely devastated. The ferry made a stop in Ha'apai to drop off supplies desperately needed by people as well as nurse volunteers from Australia and other aid organizations. I was able to hop off the boat briefly and walk around.
Here are some of the images I captured.
|The sun was just rising as we arrived in Ha'apai.|
|A house that was destroyed. See the bed?|
|There was so much tin roofing just bent around the trees.|
Right now the concern for the Ha'apai citizens is clean water. Since most of the water tanks were blown away or broken during the cyclone there isn't enough clean water for the thousands of people who had their homes destroyed and are currently still on the island.
Please keep the people of Ha'apai in your thoughts today and throughout the next few months as they look to rebuild over 20 islands from the ground up.