'I can't sleep': Bay Area residents fear for relatives in Tonga after volcanic eruption

ByCornell W. Barnard KGO logo
Tuesday, January 18, 2022
Bay Area families fear for relatives in Tonga after tsunami
Bay Area residents are fearing for their relatives in Tonga after a massive underwater volcano erupted near the island nation.

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- New images show just how much ash is covering parts of Tonga after a massive volcano eruption Saturday, which triggered a tsunami.

Reuters reports ash is so heavy at the airport, planes carrying relief supplies can't yet land.

Ships with supplies are also on the way.

Two people have been confirmed dead, but communications from the island have been limited, so the true extent of the devastation is not yet known.

RELATED: Videos show flooding, damage after tsunami waves hit Bay Area

An undersea volcano erupted in near the Pacific nation of Tonga, sending tsunami waves crashing across the San Francisco Bay Area coast.

Many Bay Area residents are still anxious to hear from loved ones.

"It's really hard, especially with your son out there," said Liberty Latu.

Latu from Redwood City is consumed with worry about her 11-year-old son Gordon, who lives in Tonga. She hasn't spoken to him since last Friday, hours before a massive underwater volcano erupted near the island nation.

The phone and internet were knocked out. Liberty needs to know if Gordon is OK.

"It's really tough, I can't sleep. I stay up and think of him," said Latu.

RELATED: New tsunami hazard maps show Bay Area regions most at-risk if 'worst-case scenario' were to occur

Pastor Vaka Taimani from the First Tongan Church in San Carlos is also hoping for news about friends and loved ones in Tonga. He knows food and water supplies may be contaminated from volcanic ash.

"We pray that God will help them, the air they're breathing is not clean," said Taimani.

Seslia Langi Pahulu's shipping company in Oakland is stepping up to help. SF Enterprises & Logistics will soon be sending two ships to Tonga full of relief supplies, it's accepting donations from the public at its Mandella Parkway headquarters near the Port of Oakland.

"If anybody has general donations, I'd stick to water, masks, relief goods and I'll ship it," said Pahulu.

She says supplies will eventually be distributed by the Tongan government.

If you'd like to help, you can bring donations to:

SF Enterprises and Logistics

2525 Mandela Parkway suite 1 Oakland

RELATED: What to do if there's a tsunami watch or warning