Samoa damage: As bad as 2009 tsunami
As Cyclone Evan moves on to ravage Fiji, there's at least one Samoan man in Palmerston North who is relieved to hear his family are safe, but he is devastated for his country.
Cyclone Evan last week destroyed much of Samoa's capital Apia, leaving at least four people dead and another eight people missing.
On Sunday it transformed from a category 3 cyclone to a 4, on a 5-point scale, and powered across the French islands of Wallis and Futuna. It is now battering Fiji.
Tafilipepe Fred Asalemo was concerned about family members back home after he was unable to get hold of them after Cyclone Evan hit.
However, he was able to contact them at the weekend, and was relieved to hear they were safe. But his sister-in-law's house in Falelatai had its roof blown off and was flooded with water and mud.
That wasn't good news, but he had initially heard it had been destroyed, and it wasn't as bad as some of the other places, he said.
A group of youths from his church, the Samoan Congregational Christian Church, had a long-planned trip to Samoa to learn the language and culture, and was headed there this week. Unfortunately for them, they would probably spend more time helping to clean up than learning, he said.
Mr Asalemo said the cyclone was just as devastating, if not more so, than the tsunami that hit the country in 2009.
Shelter Box Response Team member Lyndon Tamblyn, who owns What a Load of Bull in Bulls, was heading to Samoa along with another team member to assess the damage yesterday.
The problem was communications were down and that made it difficult to determine how badly affected the smaller communities were.
One of the reports that had come out from the Disaster Relief Forum (NDRF) said up to 1000 homes had been lost.
Priorities for shelter boxes were families with children and elderly people whose homes had been destroyed and were living in temporary accommodation such as schools or halls.
Shelter Box would liaise with the Red Cross, the Samoan Government and other aid agencies.