UnitingWorld launches cyclone appeal

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UnitingWorld has launched an appeal to support communities in Tonga affected by Tropical Cyclone Gita.

The category-four cyclone lashed the Pacific nation overnight, ripping roofs from houses and causing widespread flooding.

It is the worst storm to hit the country in 60 years, with winds exceeding 230km/h.

The parliament building in Tonga has been completely flattened and a state of emergency declared.

There have so far been no reports of fatalities. However, 70 per cent of the population is affected and food and water will be a significant problem in coming days.

The Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga has opened its halls as an emergency shelter for people who evacuated their homes.

Cyclones are common in the Pacific this time of the year.

In 2016, Cyclone Winston killed 44 people in Fiji and Cyclone Pam claimed 11 lives when it hit Vanuatu in 2015.

Cyclone Gita is heading towards Fiji and is expected to intensify to a category five cyclone as it passes over the Southern Lau Islands.

UnitingWorld national director Dr Sureka Goringe said early reports indicate the damage from the cyclone is substantial.

“We are still anxiously awaiting to hear from our partners, as communications and power infrastructure has been damaged,” Dr Goringe said.

“We are watching, praying and hoping with the Methodist Church in Fiji that their island nation is spared from another severe cyclone so soon after Cyclone Winston.”

VicTas Moderator Rev Sharon Hollis called on Uniting Church members to pray for their neighbours in the Pacific. She offered this following prayer:

God of mercy,

We pray for the Kingdom of Tonga

as they bear the brunt of Cyclone Gita.

Grant them courage and strength

as they rebuild homes and businesses.

Grant them hope and resilience

as they rebuild lives and communities.

We pray for other nations of the Pacific who are also impacted

and for family and friends in Australia as they worry for those they love.

Stir up a spirit of generosity in our nation

that we may respond to the needs of our neighbours

with abundance and open heartedness. Amen


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