Flood-hit Māngere family thanks community support in disaster

The Mougavalu family
Survivor Mohe Mougavalu . . . "We weren't going to leave the house but the only way to survive is to get out." Image: 1News screenshot APR

By Barbara Dreaver, 1News Pacific correspondent

The Moungavalu family in Aotearoa New Zealand are grateful to be alive.

Their Māngere home in Auckland, along with others in their street, was hit hard by flooding with chest-deep water sweeping down the road.

Mohe Mougavalu says the water went down their no exit street but because there was no outflow at the other end, it came back twofold on the homes.

“We weren’t going to leave the house but the only way to survive is to get out. It’s really testing, especially me deciding the fate of our family,” he said.

“We actually have to hold on to the fence and make our way up the street and get out.”

The family returned at 6am today to start cleaning and are devastated at the level of damage. They’ve lost nearly everything they own.

Community advocate Dave Letele and his community group BBM were first on the scene to offer help.

Arranging replacements
Through his contacts, he is arranging for furniture and damaged appliances to be replaced. He has also delivered food parcels and rugs to where the family is sheltering with one of their aunts.

Barbara Dreaver’s report on the Moungavalu family.     Video: 1News

It’s much appreciated as there are 19 people there.

This isn’t an isolated case — it’s unknown how many homes are affected in South Auckland but it’s believed to be widespread.

Letele says that’s the issue.

“It’s the people who are already struggling – that’s the issue here. The areas that are hit, these people are already struggling.”

The BBM team has sprung into action and a call for volunteers and donations has brought a steady stream of people wanting to help.

Te Aroha Isaia is one of them. She and her family have brought baby items, clothes and food.

‘Stand up and deliver’
“I like to think if we were in need people like ourselves, if they have something to give them, why not?”

Letele says the support from the community wanting to help is incredible.

“We do what the community does best and we stand up and deliver in times of need,” he said.

Just as well, as everybody 1News spoke to felt South Auckland had been left to fend for itself.

Tuala Tagaloa Tusani, chairperson of charity group ASA Foundation says it’s disgraceful that little official focus was put on the area.

“It’s bloody late. The community again is trying to find solutions to the problems.”

The ASA Foundation and Graeme Avenue Pharmacy teamed up to deliver prescribed medication free of charge to those who needed it today.

Tusani says he is concerned about how struggling families will be able to cope with replacing flood-damaged items and repairs on homes.

“School is supposed to start next week so a lot of our money has already been put into school fees,” he said.

There’s no doubt families like the Moungavalus have taken a financial hit, but they say at least they can rebuild together as a family.

Republished with permission.

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