Wait for news after cyclone stretches nerves

MICHELE ONG
Last updated 05:00 14/01/2014

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Valai Taumoepeau remembers living through a cyclone as a little boy.

The Spotswood resident cannot help but worry for his relatives as he reads news of Cyclone Ian ripping through Tonga.

The cyclone has so far left one person dead, displaced 2000 residents and left the fate of another 5000 people uncertain.

News of the cyclone brought back memories for Mr Taumoepeau, who remembered living through one as a 9-year-old boy.

"All the trees were gone and you see roofs flying in the air," he said. "I still remember it."

Mr Taumoepeau also heads the Taranaki Tongan Community group and said the nerves of the community have been stretched as they wait for news of their loved ones.

"It's quite a worrying time," he said. "I hope everything is OK."

Mr Taumoepeau's parents and siblings are in Ha'apai island and he had not been able to get hold of them. "Hopefully they've all survived the cyclone."

Tongans were used to having tropical cyclones batter their shores but that did not make it any easier to deal with, he said.

"It's still a bit scary but it's life."

The New Plymouth Methodist Church held prayers for Tonga on Sunday and the Tongan community was waiting anxiously to see what help was needed.

The New Zealand Red Cross has made funds of $10,000 available for relief efforts.

The organisation was also sending aid worker Peter Winthrop, of Wellington, who leaves today to liaise with the Tonga Red Cross about its needs in the aftermath of the cyclone.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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