Tropical Cyclone Gita, a category 4 cyclone, struck Tonga on 12 and 13 February 2018, causing widespread destruction on the main island of Tongatapu, including the capital of Nuku’alofa and the neighbouring island of ‘Eua. The Anglican Church in Tonga was very quick to respond with churches and halls being pressed into use as evacuation centres even before the cyclone arrived. There is no doubt that the overall level of preparedness of the Anglican Church in Tonga contributed to reducing the cyclone’s immediate impact.
The damage to people’s homes and to Tonga’s economy is significant. Power supplies and communications services have been extensively interrupted and a number of local businesses and public offices remain closed. The damage to fruit trees and crops is substantial and recovery will take at least six months. As of 17 February, 4,521 people remained in 108 evacuation centres; and over 1,550 houses have been damaged. Immediate issues include access to clean water, power and the increased risks from dengue, cholera and typhoid.
The Tonga Government has requested international assistance and the New Zealand and Australian Governments have already committed NZ$2.25m and AU$3.5m respectively to assist with immediate response efforts. ANGLICAN MISSIONS launched an appeal on Monday 13 February and is working closely with the Anglican Board of Missions and Anglican Overseas Aid (both Australia) to ensure a joined up and coordinated response and we are talking with the Diocese of Polynesia to work up the most appropriate and helpful way to support the Anglican Church in Tonga – which continues to provide critical support to families affected by the Cyclone. We are also keeping in touch with churches and NGO’s in New Zealand that are accepting donations.
Please continue to pray for those affected by the Cyclone and if you are able, we invite you to contribute to this Appeal.
Anglican Missions thanks everyone who has already contributed so generously and we will through our website, advise on how money raised through this Appeal will be used to support those most in need.
Tropical Cyclone Gita also caused damage to Samoa and Fiji and some funding from this Appeal could be allocated to support the Church in Samoa and Fiji should there be sufficient need.
All photos were taken by Rev. Fe'iloakitau Tevi in Fasi near to All Saints Anglican Church in Fasi, Tonga.