Prayers over Pacific storm

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 08:52 18/12/2012

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Pacific people are praying to accept the weather devastating Pacific islands and that there would be no more loss of life, Josie Tiueti, of Blenheim, said yesterday.

Mrs Tiueti said the True Vine Christian Fellowship and Freedom Worship Centre parishes of Blenheim were having a joint service last night.

Many of the parishioners came from Samoa, where Cyclone Evan first hit, and Fiji, which it reached last night, and Tonga, which was in the path of the storm, and other Pacific islands.

Mrs Tiueti's husband, Sione Tiueti, is a pastor at the True Vine church.

"You can rebuild through devastation, but when loss of life occurs you can't bring back that person," she said. Through Facebook, Mrs Tiueti has been keeping up with events in Lafaga on the southwest coast of Upolu in Samoa where her Scottish-Samoan forebears, the Robinsons, came from.

Homes there had lost their roofs and people had sheltered in the Mormon church, she said.

Mitieli Saunaqali, of Blenheim, whose family comes from badly hit Lautoka in Fiji, said he could not get in touch with relatives because the power was off.

After radio warnings, people would have nailed shutters and windows closed and tied down roofs with ropes, he said.

Last night, Blenheim teenager Amelia Peter was in Fiji sheltering from the cyclone cramped up in a small room with seven people.

Amelia, 17, her boyfriend and his family were hunkering down at the Fiji Beach Resort on Denarau Island after being evacuated by boat from the Octopus Resort on Yasawa Island.

Hotel staff were concerned about the storm's intensity and "preparing for the worst", she told the Marlborough Express.

"There is a bit of flooding and no power but the windows are all OK so far," she said in a text at 8pm yesterday. The eye of the storm was expected to hit an hour later.

Earlier, hotel staff secured and instructed people to stay away from windows, told them to fill bathtubs with fresh water and to stock up on food in case the storm took out water, power or roads, she said.

"They are quite prepared for this sort of thing - I think they are used to it," she said.

The group flew to Fiji on Thursday and had three beautiful days before the weather took a turn for the worse on Saturday night, she said.

More than 400 New Zealanders in Fiji have registered with the New Zealand High Commission.

Air New Zealand said flights to Nadi had been delayed until today.

Yesterday there were no flights to or on the island.

Cyclone Evan, which has destroyed much of Samoa's capital, Apia, killing at least one person with 12 more reported missing, also powered across two small French islands yesterday with a population of 15,000.

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Nothing had been heard last night from Wallis and Futuna, between Samoa and Fiji, where Evan transformed from a category 3 cyclone to category 4 on a five-point scale.

- The Marlborough Express

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