26 February, 2018

ADRA has distributed hundreds of food parcels to vulnerable people in Tonga following Tropical Cyclone Gita.

On February 12, Cyclone Gita devastated the Kingdom of Tonga. The Category 4 storm was the strongest in 60 years and caused significant damage and destruction.

Wind speeds of over 230km/h battered the country and heavy rainfall caused severe flooding.

Up to 80,000 people were affected by the cyclone, with many homes and crops destroyed.

The roof of this boy's dormitory was torn off during the storm.

The roof of this boy’s dormitory was torn off during the storm.

The food distribution ADRA coordinated last week helped more than 500 households identified as vulnerable by the government through its national disability scheme.

ADRA South Pacific Emergency Coordinator Michael Peach flew into Tonga following the cyclone to coordinate ADRA’s response.

He paid tribute to the “incredible” support from the Adventist church in Tonga, especially the invaluable support from Mission President Pastor Saia Vea.

A building flattened by Cyclone Gita.

A building flattened by Cyclone Gita.

Mr Peach said ADRA’s food distribution was even given a police motorcade to reach some targeted communities.

“[On one occasion] we travelled three hours by boat to the small island of ‘Eua to deliver assistance to the most vulnerable. We were greeted at the wharf by the Prime Minister’s representative and driven around the island in a PM-plated 4WD,” Mr Peach said.

Cyclone Gita group people

ADRA worked with the Adventist church to distribute more than 500 food parcels to vulnerable households.

“Our truck followed us to the local SDA Church where we met with 45 care-givers, predominantly women, who are responsible for providing full-time care to a relative.

“We gave them a two-week supply of groceries and listened to the stories of Tropical Cyclone Gita and the added burden it’s brought their family.”

Pastor Saia Vea is interviewed by a TV reporter.

Pastor Saia Vea is interviewed by a TV reporter.

While ADRA does not have a formal presence in Tonga, Mr Peach flew in to provide assistance and guide the response.

With strong links to the Adventist church, ADRA was able to coordinate a response through church networks.

ADRA Australia contributed funds to the response but has not opened a full-scale public appeal for funds.

ADRA is part of the Church Agencies Network Disaster Operations (CANDO) consortium which coordinates together to effectively prepare for and respond to disasters. CANDO comprises Act for Peace, ADRA Australia, Anglican Board of Mission, Anglican Overseas Aid, the Australian Lutheran World Service, Transform Aid International (Baptist World Aid Australia), UnitingWorld, and Caritas Australia.