VSA says Solomons has 'long road to recovery'
A New Zealand voluntary aid organisation in Solomon Islands says it will be a long road to recovery following devastating floods in the region.
A New Zealand voluntary aid organisation in Solomon Islands says it will be a long road to recovery following floods in the region.
Volunteer Service Abroad's programme manager in Solomons, Alexa Funnell, told Amelia Langford there is a lot of work ahead.
ALEXA FUNNELL: The flood levels are receding, and things are starting to kind of dry out, so it's certainly a big improvement on Thursday, Friday and Saturday when it was just constant rain and things were in a bit of a crisis mode. I mean I guess that doesn't mean to say that things are all right, but on the surface at least things are getting a little bit back to normal.
AMELIA LANGFORD: Right. So it's focussing now on this recovery effort?
AF: Yeah, very much so. I mean, you know, the death toll is still continuing to rise. And there's still a lot of people missing. I think everybody knows somebody who has got somebody, a family member or a friend, who is still missing.
AL: Now it must be quite a harrowing situation for everybody. How are people coping?
AF: I think people cope in different ways at these times. Solomon Islanders are extremely resilient people and you know, they're I guess, making the best of a really bad situation. Everybody is pitching in and helping everybody else out. In terms of our volunteers, on a very, you know, much smaller scale, they've witnessed some pretty horrible sights.
One of our volunteers, as he was walking home, when I gave the evacuation order to go, for everybody to leave work and actually make their way home, as he was walking home he was walking over the bridge and they were trying to help some guys bring in some of the smaller boats when they noticed some people being swept down the river and tried to help, but weren't able to actually get to those people. He said he saw about 15 people being swept out to sea, and that was just in the first kind of hour of that flash flood. So if that's in the first hour, we hope that those people did make it to safety. I know a number of people who were swept out to sea were then rescued by boats or managed to swim ashore. But, you know, it is a little bit concerning that there might be more people that we don't know about at this stage.
AL: Indeed. Was there much warning that this flood was going to happen?
AF: We knew that there was heavy rain, it had been raining very heavily for two days. But I don't think anyone anticipated this level of destruction in the city, and this loss of life. In that sense, it did come out of the blue. Honiara, you know, this time of the year, from about November to April gets a lot of rain anyway, and it can be quite consistent, so it wasn't that unusual. And so for this to have happened now has been a real shock.
AL: Do you think things will now things will slowly start getting back to normal?
AF: I think it will definitely take months and months. I mean I think there might be a veneer of normality in the actual centre of town in terms of shops reopening, you know roads being tidied up, trees being pushed to the side and rubbish starting to be collected, small things like that. But you know that's just the surface, I think it's going to take many, many months before things actually get anywhere near normal. You know, for a lot of people who have lost their whole house or their possessions and maybe family members as well, it's going to be a long road to recovery.
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