Pleasant Grove business owner among those collecting goods and supplies for Tonga

Jan 19, 2022, 10:15 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 6:21 pm

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah — A business owner was among those Wednesday trying to gather goods and supplies for the people of Tonga following a devastating tsunami spawned by a volcanic eruption.

At the Fresh Fade Away Barbershop, Nafe Latu had already amassed numerous bags of rice and cereal, jars of peanut butter and other supplies donated from the community.

“It’s just crazy to me,” Latu told KSL 5. “I didn’t expect a lot of love from a lot of people but I’m just grateful.”

Since the eruption, Latu had not heard from family members over the past 5 days.

“The last conversation I had with my brother was Friday night here, which was Saturday on the island,” Latu said. “While we were talking, he just told me it was raining with rocks—it was from the volcano erupting—and that was the last conversation we had. The phone cut off there and that was it. That was the last thing I heard from him.”

Latu said he didn’t know what had happened.

“That was the scary part—just knowing that was the last thing I heard from him,” Latu said.

Communication between Tonga and the U.S. have been limited since the tsunami due to an important undersea cable going down in the aftermath of the eruption.

Earlier Wednesday, Latu said he heard he could dial Tonga and attempted to reach his brother. Though the call rang through, nobody answered.

“So, tonight I got a phone call,” Latu smiled. “I was crossing my fingers like ‘it has to be him, it has to be him calling’ and I answered and it was him. (I) got to speak with him for 6 minutes.”

In that time, Latu said his brother described the devastation along the coastline.

“The beach next to our house—he just said it’s ‘demolished,’” Latu said.

Latu said he was also told locals were struggling to find access to water and were in need of food.

He was glad he had already begun to collect some of the essentials. Latu said he would continue to collect non-perishable food and other supplies at the barbershop through Jan. 27, and anyone interested in donating could call the shop at 801-919-9818 or bring donations there.

For now, Latu said he is relieved to hear his brother is surviving.

“For me, I’m just glad that I got to hear from him,” Latu nodded.

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Pleasant Grove business owner among those collecting goods and supplies for Tonga