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News Release —  14 January 2014

Mormons Mobilise After Devastating Cyclone Hits Tonga

Water, Food, Generators Being Rushed to Ha'apai Islands Group

Nuku'alofa, Tonga  — 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is rushing emergency supplies from Tongatapu to the island group of Ha’apai following the weekend’s devastating cyclone.

A boat that left from Nuku’alofa last night arrived in Ha’apai this morning. It brought water donated by the Church, as well as food, chainsaws, water filters, generators and other emergency supplies.

Latter-day Saints on Tongatapu also gathered from their homes large amounts of food, clothing, blankets and other items which were added to the Church’s aid shipment and sent to Ha’apai overnight.

“The cyclone that has wreaked havoc on Tonga has now cleared the Pacific nation after causing one death, damage to buildings, power and communication systems,” according to a report in the New Zealand Herald.

The article continues: “Tonga was pounded by Tropical Cyclone Ian, which had winds reaching 270km/h.”

“Tonga Red Cross head Sione Taumoefolau told the NZ Herald that a woman had been killed in Lifuka, a small island within the Ha'apai group of islands.”

“Ha'apai is said to have been the most severely hit by the category 4 cyclone, which had hovered over the island nation for the past few days.”

Leader of the Tonga Nukualofa Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Leitoni Tupou, reported that all missionaries have been contacted, including senior couples, and are safe.

Many people in the Ha'apai group of islands whose homes are either damaged or completely destroyed are staying in Latter-day Saint buildings.

The local stake president (Mormon leader responsible for a group of congregations) advises that up to 50% of Church members’ homes have been either damaged or destroyed.

Latter-day Saint leader based in Tonga, Elder ‘Aisake Tukuafu, President Tupou and the Church’s Tonga service centre manager, Howard Niu, are traveling to Ha’apai today to make an assessment and will meet with local Church and community leaders.

On Sunday the Church sent a facilities manager on a naval vessel to Ha’apai. He took four chain saws and 100 tarpaulins to assist those in need.

The Church has donated US$25,000 for the purchase of food, generators, tarpaulins, ropes and other items to assist Church members, their neighbours and those who are sheltered in Church facilities.

Latter-day Saint bishops in Tonga are also using fast offerings (local donations) to provide assistance to those in need.

Once the government has completed its assessment, the Church will determine what future aid and other resources will be made available to assist the government and people of Tonga.

In another article, from the publication, Pacific Eye Witness, further information was provided about Latter-day Saint relief efforts.

According to the report the Church combined with a local corporation, Digicel Tonga, to transport relief to the Island.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or commonly referred to as Mormons or LDS Church, have helped to pay for the charter flight to Ha’apai, sharing the costs with Digicel Tonga," said company CEO, Jack Bourke.

“Obviously they’ve got a huge fellowship right up there and throughout the country, and if you’re familiar with their architecture, it’s solid concrete. From what I’ve heard, people have been taking refuge at their chapels on Ha’apai,” said Mr Bourke.

Digicel Team and LDS Elders

Staff from Digicel Tonga, in red, and young Mormon/LDS missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints help to unload emergency relief supplies from the chartered relief flight on arrival at cyclone-ravaged Ha’apaiPhoto credit and information: Digicel Tonga.

 

Style Guide Note: When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online style guide.

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