Emotions are still running high in the Tongan community of Utah after a massive volcano eruption and tsunami in the island nation just over a week ago.
Ivoni Nash hosts a Tongan radio show in Salt Lake City that airs live once a week. The latest show on Sunday included many Utahns who still can’t believe what happened.
Many were still trying to reach loved ones on the islands.
“They are still in awe. They are really sad and there is a lot of crying on the radio. There are lots of crying people,” said an emotional Nash.
Nash is also the program director at the National Tongan American Society in Murray, a nonprofit organization that helps Pacific Islanders. She remembers last weekend very well when that massive volcano eruption hit followed by a deadly tsunami.
“It scared the heck out of me. It shook my whole body,” she said. “It’s really scary because I haven’t gotten ahold of anyone I know.”
Fahina Tavake-Pasi who is the executive director of the organization said she also spent a lot of time crying.
“The first thing to come to mind is like, cry,” said an emotional Tavake-Pasi as she thinks about what happened in Tonga. “You feel helpless because you can’t do anything. The community back there is our family, our relatives, our friends and neighbors.”
Tavake-Pasi said she, too, is still trying to reach loved ones. She’s also reached out to Tonga’s prime minister to see what Utahns can do to help.
Getting supplies from Utah to Tonga is nearly impossible because of the distance and difficulty of actually getting on the island.
The National Tongan American Society has set up a GoFundMe account for those who want to help.
Tavake-Pasi said the only comfort is that the blast killed three people when it could have been so much worse.
“It’s a total miracle the way it blew up and how close Tonga is to where it blew up. It’s amazing that whole island didn’t go under,” Tavake-Pasi said.