When Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai submarine volcano erupted on 15 January, it caused a devastating tsunami and covered the kingdom of Tonga in a blanket of volcanic ash.

On the outer island of ‘Eua, the tsunami caused extensive damage, destroying homes and displacing numerous families.

Among those most affected is Falakiko Longani, a volunteer for the Tonga Just Play, which he fits around his full-time role with the local Police Department.

The damage to Longani’s house caused by the tsunami was so extensive, the foundations of his home have still not been found. The Logani family home is one of the 30 destroyed by the tsunami on ‘Eua Island according to the Initial Damage and Assessment Report from the NEMO, January 2022.

The eruption and resulting tsunami were devastating enough, but losing their home and dealing with a changed environment has been a struggle for Longani and his small family.

“Before this tsunami happened, everything was fine but after this disaster, finding out that our house has been destroyed, makes me feel unhappy. All our belongings, everything, together with our house were all destroyed and I felt poor inside me knowing there is nothing left. The only positive is, fortunately, my family was safe and sound and that makes me happy,” Longani said.

“From what I’ve experienced from this damage I believe preparedness is very important. If there is a disaster warning, we must be well prepared. There is a saying that prevention is better than cure,” he added.

Longani and his family are currently living in a school flat as the recovery efforts across ‘Eua continues. Despite the damage and their destroyed house, he is hoping for a fast recovery for his family and the wider community.

Longani plans to continue running the Just Play Programme, and implementing the Emergency Programme content, as it’s something that can help children of ‘Eua by taking them to a happy and safe environment that may help them forget all the recent disasters that have happened in their community.

Story credit: Tonga FA