Thousands of Tongans still homeless after Cyclone Gita

More than 4500 Tongans still remain homeless after Cyclone Gita struck the Pacific Island nation on Tuesday.

They're being forced to seek refuge in more than 100 evacuation centres scattered through the country.

For many families, it will be several months before they can head back to homes which are now destroyed.

Friday morning at one of Nukualofa's evacuation centres was a chance for mothers and children to come together in prayer and in song.

The centre is normally a church, but now Sunday school classrooms have become bedrooms. Most live in the neighbourhood, but now have nowhere to go.

It's here Newshub met Doreen and her children. Her house is visible from the chapel. Surrounded by water and tin panels, she and husband Tevita have lost it all.

On Sunday night he stayed awake during the storm, rescuing his children.

There's no doubt the stress has taken its toll, but they're determined to move on.

"It's going to be hard, but I can manage, we can manage, because we're not alone here - this is Tonga, we've got brothers, sisters, family," Tevita says.

Tevita says he has a few weeks' worth of savings to provide for the family. He's hoping he'll secure more work by the time the money runs out.

Tents and tarpaulins are now being distributed to areas across the city, but for families affected by the cyclone, that's only a short-term solution.


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