Cyclone Gita hits close to home for Warriors star as Kiwi club pledges support

The affects of Tropical Cyclone Gita hit a little too close to home for Warriors star David Fusitu'a.

Tongan authorities fear thousands of families have been left homeless after the category four storm, which has since been upgraded to five, tore through the Pacific Island nation overnight Monday.

Fusitu'a's sister works as a teacher on the main island of Tongatapu and was caught up in the storm.

While she was lucky enough to escape harm, her school was one of the countless number of buildings, including Tonga's parliament house, to be "battered" by the cyclone.

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"I always go home and my sister stays over there so I've been keeping tabs and making sure she's alright," Fusitu'a told Stuff.

"The school is quite battered. She messaged me just saying that it's a bad sight over there at the moment and it's not looking too good but the positive thing is that she's alright.

"But there's still a lot of broken homes and people will be rebuilding their lives after this cyclone so I send all my love and thoughts over to them."

Along with Tonga, Cyclone Gita has passed over Samoa and Fiji, causing substantial flooding and damage.

Vector-borne diseases, such as dengue fever, have also been identified as a major risk due to the amount of water collecting after the cyclone.

The Warriors have strong ties to the Pacific and have joined forces with the New Zealand Red Cross to help support the Pacific Disaster Fund.

A heavily-discounted $15.00 adult ticket offer has been unveiled for the first home game of the NRL season against Gold Coast at Mt Smart on March 17, with the Warriors to donate $5 from every ticket sold.

The club will also hold a bucket collection during this Saturday's trial against Melbourne at Rotorua International Stadium.

Warriors five-eighth Ata Hingano, who along with Fusitu'a was one of Tonga's heroes during their fairytale run at last year's Rugby League World Cup, urged fans to keep the Pacific Islands in their thoughts.

"Tonga and Samoa has been hit pretty hard," Hingano said. "My family's doing okay, they weren't hit as bad, but I know all villages in Tonga are helping one another out and it's good that the club is helping out too. 

"They'll be making a donation from ticket sales to go towards the Pacific Islands to pick them again."

The ticket offer for the Gold Coast game covers all areas except the platinum covered and platinum uncovered bays.

They are open to the general public midday Friday, with the offer running until March 16.

"Our hearts go out to everyone directly affected by Cyclone Gita and also to people in New Zealand who have loved ones who are suffering," said Warriors chief executive Cameron George.

"We are a club with strong Pacific links and we want to do what we can to help the island nations which have been impacted. 

"Donations to the Pacific Disaster Fund will ensure Red Cross can respond quickly and efficiently to help our Pacific neighbours."

 - Stuff

Fuente: WAIKATO TIMES