People of the Bay Area Receive a Brief Message of Hope from Tonga – CBS San Francisco

MOUNT DIABLO (KPIX) – Worried Bay Area loved ones received a brief message of hope, after the tsunami caused by Great Underground Volcano attacked the island nation of Tonga and wiped out vital communications infrastructure.

On Monday afternoon, Sela Tukia, Tongan Consul General in San Francisco told KPIX that while direct communication has not been made, several reconnaissance flights over the island nation have shown damage described as “significantly”.

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Talita Kefu now lives in San Mateo, but the rest of her family remains in Tonga. She was just as nervous as everyone else, but on Sunday she had a precious gift – a minute to talk to her sister.

“I have a minute and it is the best minute. Just the best,” said Talita.

Her sister spoke to someone at the local phone company to give her a one-minute call on a satellite phone. That’s just enough time to say everyone is fine and spread the word that can help many fellow Bay Area people.

“Our house is less than a mile from the waterfront,” said Talita, “and she said there was no water coming to our house, so that said something. And some families who live near us have texted us, ‘Okay, so if your home is safe, does that mean ours are too?’ I think so, from what she described. So I’m really optimistic about that.”

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There are other islands in Tonga where the news may be different. But any news, especially positive news, is gratefully received by friends and family, who have so far been unable to envision the worst.

Late Monday, which is Tuesday in Tonga, has more good news. Repairs to satellite communications equipment will begin soon, with underwater telephone cable repairs expected to take at least two weeks. However, before the device can be flown in, the airport’s runway needs to be cleared of ash. So far, the Tongans have manually scanned about 100 meters of the runway on Monday, but there is still a long way to go.

The first images of the incoming tsunami were posted on the internet, but a short time later everything went dark as all normal communication systems failed. That’s what HAM operators like Dick Wade have prepared for. The antenna above his Walnut Creek home is facing Tonga but so far he hasn’t been able to pick up anything recognizable.

“It’s part of the world, it’s very difficult to reach this area,” Wade said, “but Australia and New Zealand, they’re going to start hearing a lot of things, and regional emergency agencies. that area, they will be able to make some contacts there. “

Wade is a member of the Mount Diablo Amateur Radio Club, and although clouds of ash from the volcano are weakening radio signals, he hopes that the network of amateur radio operators will soon be established. was founded to help spread information to worried friends and family around the world.

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As help arrives, COVID-19 could slow relief efforts. So far, Tonga has only had one case of the virus. Any emergency personnel arriving in the country will have to be carefully screened to prevent the disease from spreading, which could add disaster to disaster. People of the Bay Area Receive a Brief Message of Hope from Tonga – CBS San Francisco

Dustin Huang

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