Phone report from Willy Florian (20 Jan)

We received a phone call from Willy Florian in Tonga this morning, to let us know he and his family – and everyone at the radio station – are OK.

However, food and water supplies are running low and the air is polluted with toxic ash.

Because most  communications with Tonga are down and access is scarce, the call quality is low, so we’ve transcribed some of the conversation below:

Thank you for the prayers. Everyone, thank you … we are surviving by the grace of God and we will get through this … there is destruction here in Tonga and also Ha’apai … and oh my goodness  … we have those big explosions, and we have the rock rain, and we have the ashes rain the whole night.

I’m driving through all the ashes in the rain trying to rescue people who live close to the seashore … families and friends … 

Andrew: Are you able to broadcast ? 

Yes we are broadcasting … we are still broadcasting … and … people … they are so down and discouraged and think … that it is
the end of the world.

On Saturday I went down … and I noticed the birds were flying over the fish and the dogs and the animals were running … I have never
seen anything, and the only thing that comes is that something … is about to happen coming from the sea and then suddenly we begin to hear these explosions like I’ve never heard in my life.

Everyone would kneel as they tried to hold their ears and it was not the one explosion, it was one, two, three, four … and big huge ones. You could feel the shaking and the churning of the waves about to come, big huge waves of water … all the way down to the … and you know the place where I used to have retreat with my youth?

Andrew: Yes we saw that’s been destroyed.

Yes all gone … all those … nothing left. Everything is … yeah … terrible.

I just want you to tell our supporters, Andrew, thank you for the prayers and we are still on the radio during this hard time and I think everyone is very emotional … but the nation is working together. People are working together and trying to remove the dust from the roof of the houses, from the main road … and we are praying for rain and please do pray that we would have a huge heavy rain that will wash all the stuff … our plants are dying and … yes it is terrible. 

Everyone here in Tonga is wearing masks when there is no Covid. We are wearing masks because of the dust.

Yeah Andrew it was so big … everyone here was holding their ear. You cannot stand it.

The island was shaking. Before the explosion we begin to see the tides just went dry. We know that something is about to happen, and everyone has to leave everything. Cars, boats are on the land, vehicles are smashed at the side, rocks are on the road.

Everything is dust … but I just want to thank you for the prayers and  knew when this thing happened everybody will be wondering what is happening, and I knew in my heart that you guys are praying …

Thank you very much … for your prayers.