Holiday plans abandoned so Mike can help in cyclone relief
A ST IVES man who now lives in New Zealand sacrificed his New Year's Eve holiday to join the relief effort in cyclone-hit Samoa.
The small Pacific island state was devastated by Cyclone Evan in December.
Civil defence expert Mike Langford, whose parents Geoff and Sheila still live in St Ives and whose brother Robin is a lifeboatman in the town, abandoned his holiday plans to join the New Zealand contingent of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), run by the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
The Category 4 cyclone killed at least five people, including two children, and 11 are still missing. It also knocked out power, water and communications and saw 5,500 Samoans spend Christmas in evacuation centres.
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For the next few weeks Mr Langford will work 14 to 16 hours a day helping those people move back home.
In New Zealand, Mr Langford has dealt with the aftermath of tornados in New Plymouth and flooding in the Waitotara Valley. He volunteered in Sri Lanka in 2009 after the civil war and was involved in the Christchurch earthquake recovery effort.
He said there was less structural damage in Samoa than in Christchurch. "There'll be a lot of homes where people just need to be provided with the bits and pieces: equipment for cleaning, that sort of stuff," he said.
Seeds would also be needed. "We recognise their gardens are important to them so we'll give them seeds so they can replant. Getting back to normal could be a long process."
Geoff said he was very proud of his son. "Mike's doing what he is extremely well trained to do. Sheila and I are obviously concerned for his safety, but he's very professional and experienced in disaster relief."
Donations can be made to support the recovery effort through www.adra.org.nz or by ringing 0800 4999111.