Letter from Bob Heasman, ZS6FB, about the Tsunami in Tonga and Samoa.
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Message ID: 3158_ZS6FB
Date: 2009/10/10 17:29
CMS Site: Telnet
An update on our activities:-
Niuatoputapu, the northernmost island in the Tonga group were also hit, but miraculously only 9 people died and they were all in a Kombie. The rest of the people saw what was happening and made for the hills. However their houses were completely scrambled and they lost their private possessions. So the yachties in Neiafu clubbed together and donated clothing, tools and petrol. This stuff was to be collected by a French frigate on its way past on its way to Niuatoputapu. Guess what, they just went straight past, so a call went out for a yachtie to take the stuff up there. So we volunteered to sail up with the stuff in Kudana. There were 8 twenty five liter cans of fuel (tied together on the deck), 2 25 lb gas cylinders (in the chain locker) and a whole lot of boxes and plastic bags (stacked in two of our cabins). Poor Kudana was really heavy. Apart from a lack of wind the second day, which made us start our engines, it was quite a pleasant trip. I think we had in the region of 700 kg. of cargo altogether.
When we arrived, at about 10am, we were met by an official, and a couple of dinghies from yachts who took a lot of the stuff and got it taken to the local Red Cross center. However all the yachties (8 yachts) kept some stuff back and the next day we took it all in to the local Hall and laid it all out. We gave the people plastic bags and told them to help themselves. They were reluctant to begin with but eventually started helping themselves and within an hour all the tools, groceries and the huge heap of clothes were all gone. It was such a relief, and to see the people laughing and smiling again was a bonus. But the Tongans also like to give and they invited us back next day to collect paw paws, bananas and mangoes. We did that this morning and now we have been invited to have lunch with them. We were reluctant to accept because they have so little, but couldn't hurt their feelings.
THE DEVASTATION IS TERRIBLE.
One guy who gave us a lift described how he and his family were having breakfast when they heard a lot of shouting. He went outside to see a wall of water approaching. He shouted to his family to get into the bakkie and raced off down the road (2 ruts in dirt) with his daughter screaming to go faster. He could see the water coming in the rear view mirror. He said they just made it to safety with a couple of feet to spare. Frightening stuff.
The day we arrived there was a second Tsunami warning which turned out to be a false alarm, but everyone gapped it to the hills and slept up there under tarpaulins (donated) but it rained during the night. We guess a lot got wet.
What with the Yashika sinking and now the Tsunami and our joint efforts to help with emergency supplies, the Yachties are well in with the Governor of Vavau. When I was checking out with Immigration and Customs in Vavau they were so thankful for our efforts that one felt proud to be in a position to help. For instance, somebody donated eight 25 liter drums for petrol and another yachtie paid to have them filled. (Kudana delivered them :-))This is just one of the many efforts to help.
There have been two French Frigates call in to Niuatoputapu loaded with supplies for the Red Cross, but a lot is from relatives in Nukualofa. So they are no longer short of supplies. As one guy said he doubts if they have ever owned so much.
What is needed now are things like a bulldozer, grader, back actor, and building supplies etc. which is way out of our reach. Hopefully Govt. will react.
We will be leaving for NZ at the beginning of November.
Bob and Dawn.