Relatives watch and worry

Anxious wait for news from family

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 08:00 15/12/2012
rhys judd

CONCERNED: Tafilipepe Fred Asalemo keeps up with what is happening in Samoa via Facebook while he waits to get hold of family.

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Palmerston North's Tafilipepe Fred Asalemo is anxiously awaiting news of his family in Samoa after Cyclone Evan tore a path of destruction through the Pacific nation.

As Cyclone Evan batters the country, he already knows his sister-in-law's house in Falelatai has been destroyed, and that was before the storm intensified to a category three on Thursday.

Mr Asalemo is no stranger to the horrors of mother nature as six members of his extended family were killed when a tsunami hit Samoa in September 2009.

His sister's house had just finished being renovated in preparation for family visiting at Christmas, he said. He has been unable to get in touch with her and or anyone in his extended family since as the cyclone had destroyed powerlines.

Mr Asalemo is from the village of Si'umu, and his wife Tala from Vaiala, but they had family scattered all over Samoa, he said.

When the Manawatu Standard visited Mr Asalemo, he was looking at photos of the devastation and flooding on Facebook, and had been getting updates from his daughter, who lives in Australia, via Skype.

The Samoan Congregational Christian Church organised a collection for victims of the 2009 tsunami, and Mr Asalemo hoped Palmerston North's Samoan community would unite and do something again.

Meanwhile, New Zealand Red Cross has people on standby waiting at Auckland airport ready to head to Samoa in the cyclone's wake, should they be required.

New Zealand Red Cross international operations and emergencies manager Andrew McKie said the Samoan Red Cross had teams of trained volunteers, a fully stocked central warehouse and six depots around Samoa ready to provide tarpaulins, first-aid kits, water containers and kitchen sets.

New Zealand Red Cross international operations and emergencies manager Andrew McKie said they were ready to respond if Samoa requested assistance.

"We are asking people not to donate goods. If people want to help they can donate through our website www.redcross.org.nz." NZ families rally, page A8

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- Manawatu Standard

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