The morning after Tropical Cyclone Gita struck the main island of Tonga, Ila Fonua returned home to find her house completely flooded and possessions ruined. The Category 4 system hit the island hard, bringing down buildings and flooding low-lying areas.

With her house unhabitable, Ila had been staying with friends but returned home briefly to collect some clothes when Tonga Red Cross volunteers stopped by with relief items.

Red Cross societies across the Pacific have been busy this cyclone season with six tropical cyclones impacting the region. Tropical Cyclone Gita was one of the most damaging, initially crossing Samoa as a category two system before strengthening and hitting Tonga and Fiji’s southern islands.

New Zealand also felt Gita’s wrath when the storm passed over as an ex-tropical cyclone. Disaster Welfare and Support Teams were deployed to Taranaki and Marlborough, the two worst affected areas.

The New Zealand public, organisations and schools responded generously, donating to New Zealand Red Cross’ Pacific Disaster Fund, with many others volunteering their time to collect at events around the country.

New Zealand Red Cross released $10,000 from its Pacific Disaster Fund for Samoa Red Cross, as well as funding two generators and dispatching 300 tarpaulins. Supplies – including blankets, jerry cans, kitchen sets, solar lamps, mosquito nets, shelter toolkits and tarpaulins – were also sent to replenish Tonga Red Cross’ stocks.

We’re also supporting ongoing recovery efforts in affected communities throughout the Pacific.

Get prepared: Disaster can strike at any time so make sure your preparedness plan is in place.