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Samoans in NZ gather supplies for cyclone victims

Published: 10:21AM Monday December 17, 2012 Source: ONE News

Flights to Samoa are packed and New Zealand's Samoan community is busy collecting emergency supplies as Kiwis do what they can to support those affected by Cyclone Evan.

"Some people have lost their homes so hopefully we can go and give something back home and help out and clean up," good samaritan David Tauaana told ONE News.

Jack Va'a's wife and children are in Upolu and he's desperate to know if they are all right.

"If something's wrong with the other country and you're separated from your kids, it's really hard to handle," he said.

New Zealand aid workers are adding to the existing Red Cross relief effort, with members of disaster-relief charity ShelterBox travelling to Samoa armed with dozens of survival kits.

"We want to see for ourselves the needs so we can start pushing the buttons to get aid in as soon as possible," said one aid worker.

Miriana Aleltoa Pomare is from one of the worst affected areas in Apia where many of the houses have been washed away. She, like many others, is gathering supplies.

"We got to do something immediately," she said. "(The) government's help might come later, but now it's time for us families here to act and give something to them."

Labour MP Su'a William Sio's family is among the victims and he's been unable to contact many of his relatives.

"The pull for all of us to go back to the islands will be very strong," he said. "I'm already booked to go in the new year, but I can't help but want to get there as quickly as possible. We're just waiting to hear more and preparing ourselves.

"The community will gather around and try and make sure that those who are needing to send food and medicine and building supplies have the opportunity to do so. I'm hopeful that the airlines will provide a good will service at this time."

Air New Zealand has increased flights and seating capacity to and from Apia and has also relaxed its baggage rules, so passengers can take extra supplies to Samoa. One extra suitcase will be allowed per person free of charge.

While the extent of the damage caused by the cyclone is still being assessed, aid groups say the best way to help Samoans is to donate money until they figure out where the the most aid is needed.

Make a donation to the New Zealand Red Cross Pacific Disaster Reponse fund.

New Zealand in firing line

Weather experts say the tail-end of Cyclone Evan could hit New Zealand in time for Christmas.

Climate scientist Professor Jim Salinger said the north of New Zealand could experience strong winds and rain if the storm heads south as it reduces in intensity.

He said the US Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Centre predicts the storm will be about 800 km north of Auckland by Friday evening with winds of 110kmh at its centre.

By that stage it would be classed as an "ex-tropical cyclone", Salinger said, and not as fierce as the system which has affected Samoa and Fiji.

Other atmospheric models have the cyclone drifting south to affect Northland next Sunday and Monday, with strong south easterly winds and rain.

MetService Chief Forecaster Peter Kreft told ONE News it is not yet clear what will happen to the cyclone over the next few days.

"It is a little early to predict where the cyclone will go when it exits the tropics," he said. "There are a lot of possibilities and we will have a better idea in the next few days."

Kreft said the possible affects of the cyclone range from strong winds and rain in Northland in the worst case, to nothing at all.

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