HONOLULU (KHON2) — Sioeli Fatafehi now lives on Oahu, but his family remains in Tonga, just outside of the capital, Nuku’alofa. The recent volcanic eruption on Friday, Jan. 14, caused tsunami waves to hit nearby communities.
The eruption and tsunami also cut off communication lines because of damage to an undersea cable.
Fatafehi said it was gut-wrenching not being able to hear from his loved ones for days.
“Every night we just go to Facebook and see who is going to be on on their end and zero — nothing,” he said.
After almost a week, Fatafehi made contact with his family and heard the good news that they are safe. However, his village looks nothing like he remembers. His family sent photos of damage from the volcanic eruption and tsunami.
“Water covered our village from front to back. Like you can’t even see the land,” Fatafehi said, describing what his family members told him. “You could see animals swimming, even pigs.”
Fatafehi stated that everything is covered in ash from the volcanic eruption. The ash and tsunami wiped out many of the crops on the island and contaminated the drinking water.
His brother’s home was not damaged because it is located on higher ground, but many others were not so lucky.
Fatafehi’s family now has to clean up all of the ash that is covering their properties. He added that his heart hurts seeing all the destruction in his hometown, but he is just thankful his family is safe.
Now, the Pacific Islands Region American Red Cross is getting involved to try and help the people of Tonga.
“We want to make sure that all of the money that’s donated to us and bookmarked for Tongan relief is sent to the Tonga Red Cross Society so that they can pay for the emergency supplies they need,” said Matthew Wells, the Regional Communications Director. “And for that, writing out a check and making sure that in the memo line of the check, you write ‘Tongan Relief’ — that will bookmark all of the money for Tonga.”
Mail donations can be sent here:
American Red Cross of Hawaii Headquarters
4155 Diamond Head Road
Honolulu, HI 96816
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