There was a lot on my mind on Thursday as the winds of Cyclone Evan were howling all around us. I was most concerned for the staff and students of the Australia Pacific Technical College (APTC). Our international students have come to Samoa from across the Pacific for training, and were now stranded in our accommodation with a cyclone looming.
When the cyclone hit we were reduced to communicating by SMS. I relayed updates to staff as the cyclone went directly over us. It did a U-turn and seemed ready to pounce again but thankfully this time it went past us and out to sea.
The winds eased on Friday. All our staff and students were safe but Samoa had taken a battering. Many families in Apia had lost everything—their houses, cars and nearly all their personal possessions. Hundreds of people had taken shelter at evacuation centres set up at the university and a high school near our office at Vaivase.
In the midst of all this loss it filled me with pride to see the APTC staff once again stepping up to volunteer their skills and labour for the relief effort, as we had done after the tsunami in 2009. We have dedicated staff with practical skills including plumbing, construction, welding, cookery, hospitality, health and community services and electrical trades.
Read the full blog posted by Francis Howes, Country Manager(Samoa), Australia Pacific Technical College at AusAID’s blog - "Engage" - APTC responds to Cyclone Evan