South Pacific islands struck by tsunami

Salvation Army responds to disaster in Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga.

An estimated 3,200 people are homeless and over 180 dead after a tsunami struck the South Pacific on Sept. 30, devastating Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga.

Salvation Army officers and personnel from the New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga Territory provided assistance to those evacuated to New Zealand, and the Army will also bring direct relief to the affected areas.

New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga Territorial Commander Commissioner Don Bell said, “Our compassion is strong for the many that have lost their loved ones and homes in the tsunami and whose sense of security is shattered. The Salvation Army wants to reach out to them in tangible ways to bring relief and practical assistance.”

At the request of New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Salvation Army personnel were on duty at Auckland International Airport since the afternoon the tsunami struck, providing counseling and practical help with personal necessities and accommodation to evacuees from Samoa.

A Salvation Army needs assessment team established a base in Apia on October 3 to meet with other non-governmental organizations along with the United Nations, Samoa’s national disaster office and local villagers.

Team leader Cadet Bryant Richards, who was part of The Salvation Army’s long-term response to the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, was impressed with the organization and coordination of the Samoan government relief effort.

The Salvation Army has received phone calls offering goods for shipment to Samoa. The National Disaster Management Office in Samoa has asked that goods not be sent as this will likely cause logistical problems and may damage the local economy, which needs to be quickly strengthened. “We are grateful for people’s compassion, but at the moment money to support ongoing recovery efforts is the greatest need,” said Major Campbell Roberts.

Donations to the “South Pacific and East Asia Fund” may be made online at

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