By RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission
A family from Nomuka expect their home will be unliveable when they return from New Zealand.
The Sheens have been in Northland for the last month, for temporary maintenance on their catamaran, and have not been able to make contact with friends back home in Tonga.
Last weekend’s eruption and tsunami killed a 49-year-old man on Nomuka, and caused extensive damage to the island, where around 400 people live.
Containers of non-perishable foods, water, utensils, batteries and torches from New Zealand donations are destined for Nomuka, as well as Mango, Atata, and Fonoifua islands.
Dior Sheen told RNZ that overhead photos of Nomuka, taken by relief flights, had been “quite shocking and really sad”.
“Photos have shown that our house is either severely damaged or completely destroyed.”
Other buildings were unidentifiable, she said.
“We saw all of our friends’ houses along the foreshore, they were just completely gone. There’s not even a sign in the building anymore.”
The centre of the village also looked “a lot different”.
“The only things left standing really are the churches and the schools, and then the entire island is just grey with ash.”
The Sheens had to move their home inland after major damage from Cyclone Harold last year.
“We’ve kind of spent all of last summer doing that, and it’s such a massive mission to do it all again.”
But Dior Sheen said houses could be replaced, and it was the people and animals she was most worried about.
“We just really hope that they had enough time to even get a couple of hundred metres inland.”
The Sheens sailed to the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano and camped there last year.
Meanwhile, divers from the New Zealand Defence Force will continue surveying the harbour in Tonga today.
They will be checking for any damage to the Nuku’alofa wharf, and ensuring no obstacles would stop a ship from entering the harbour.
Commodore Garin Golding said the HMNZS Aotearoa will also keep delivering desperately needed water supplies.
He said the ship will remain there in the coming days, offloading supplies to tankers and other water container systems.