Cyclone Gita is intensifying to a possible category five storm – the most severe – as Tonga braces for the worst tropical cyclone to hit the region in almost two years.
A state of emergency has been declared in Tonga ahead of the storm, which is already packing winds of almost 200km/h and is predicted to pass directly over the capital Nuku-alofa.
CARE Australia’s Emergency Response Manager Stefan Knollmayer said CARE was ready to mobilise specialist relief teams if needed and requested.
“We’re monitoring the cyclone closely with our local partners on the ground, and are on standby to provide further assistance if it’s required,” Mr Knollmayer said.
“With a storm this big, we have to prepare for the worst.”
CARE’s partner agency in Tonga, Live and Learn, is helping communities likely to bear the brunt of the storm to prepare.
“We’re reminding people in the communities to stockpile food and water and to reinforce their homes before the storm hits,” said Taniela Hoponoa, Live and Learn’s Country Manager in Tonga.
“It’s also extremely important people listen to the advice from Tonga’s national emergency office and keep their radios and phones charged and nearby.”
CARE Australia is an international humanitarian aid organisation. Last year, CARE directly reached more than 14 million people through humanitarian response work. Donations to CARE’s Global Emergency Fund can be made at www.care.org.au/emergency
Staff from CARE’s partner Live and Live are available in Tonga for interviews. Contact Sam Bolitho on 0419 567 777 to arrange.