Friday, February 26, 2010
Red Cross NZ: They have been on the ground since Cyclone Pat went through and I see this week they have started giving kids breakfast at school.
An Aitutaki community group in Rarotonga has initiated fundraising in CI communties in the Cooks, Australia and New Zealand. The Aitutaki Cyclone Appeal is planning a concert in Melbourne in April as a part of the fund raising effort.
If anyone is involved with their primary school libraries, I am collecting books for shipping to Aitutaki. I am so proud that WARKWORTH PRIMARY SCHOOL has donated 6 boxes of used library books that had been taken out of circulation. Thank you so very much. Between us, The Shahs and Pacific Resort Aitutaki will arrange for these to be shipped up to the island and installed in the libraries of the schools there. If you think you can help us with the library book appeal, please send me an e-mail.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Thursday, February 11, 2010
7am, 2.5 hours after the eye has passed at Rapae Bay, Amuri Village
(L) Amuri Village destruction; (R) Neibaa store in Vaepae Village
(L) Presbyterian Church in Vaepae; (R) Teka'aroa SDA School
A quick installment from poor old Aitutaki. First and foremost we are safe and sound, the house and resort are structurally sound and most importantly no lives were lost. Once you have looked at the total devastation around our beautiful island you can appreciate that last statement with wonder and awe. We were lucky enough to be in one of the safest positions on the island. We were exposed to all of the Southerlies before the eye, but protected from the early Easterlies and the North winds after the eye passed. Additionally we are connected to the resort generator so didn’t lose the light or power and until 2am when the internet went out, we were able to keep and eye on updates and the wind strength at the airport. Incidentally, when we lost our connection at 2am, the top gust was 70 knot, and that was 2 hours before the eye moved over the island (between 4.00am and 4.45am).
It was bad enough seeing the mess at the resort, where nearly all the big trees have fallen or had branches ripped off, blocking all paths and entry to several rooms. Venturing around the island is heart breaking. The kid’s school, Teka'aroa SDA, doesn’t exist anymore. ‘My’ preschool classroom consists of a blackboard on the end wall, upon which someone has written ‘God Is Great’. The library, and 3 classes, plus the admin office with all computers etc have been flattened. Bailey’s class block of 3 rooms is standing but the roof is in the banana plantation across the road. The college has lost several class rooms and the roof to many other classes. I had to cry. The houses constructed out of coral concrete, which is a lot of the old family homes, have lost walls and roofs. Fibro houses have had mixed fortunes, mostly bad. Concrete houses have done well, and western style houses the best. Power lines and phone lines lie all over the roads. There are some places with underground power supplies which have been reconnected, but issues with drinking water and food safety affect almost everyone and majority of the island is in darkness.
While people were emerging with smiles yesterday morning, today the enormity of the task ahead has robbed the smiles from many faces. Where do we start seems to be a common thought, and what outsiders may not realize is that it isn’t simply a task of rebuilding – there are no building supplies on the island and no skilled staff. There is no money to replace homes that have been built by and lived in for generations. Trees are down everywhere – I heard an estimate of 18mths before any new coconuts can be harvested, which is a major issue for feeding people and stock (many pigs survive on coconut flesh). Many family plantations have huge damage, fruit trees have been stripped or felled.
Regular flights have returned today. The resort is accepting guests. The resort cleanup should be mostly done within a week or two, by which time we will have earned our holiday. I can only hope the Aitutaki spirit will remain undaunted, and the easy option of just leaving will not be too high in people’s minds. The lagoon looks lovely today.