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Tent living the last resort

Saturday 27 February 2010 | Published in Regional

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Around 20 dome tents have been erected on the island of Aitutaki for families who lost their homes during cyclone Pat on February 10.

The tents, part of the Red Cross emergency kit, were erected by the New Zealand Army who’ve been stationed on the island for nearly two weeks.

While a handful of families have made themselves very comfortable in their temporary homes, others and especially those still dealing with the trauma of the devastating cyclone, are reluctant to sleep in the tents.

In the village of Vaitau, a family of 14 is adjusting to living between their new tent and family home with half a roof.

Sally Pukenga told Cook Islands News that when cyclone Pat struck, she and 13 other family members, including her 11-month-old granddaughter and 86-year-old father, watched in horror as their roof was ripped of their house taking with it the front portion of their home.

Since then the family has been trying to keep what’s left of their possessions dry in their home using tarpaulins where the roof used to be.

The Red Cross tent was a welcomed relief for the family who moved their belongings into the tent and set up beds for the kids.

But strong winds on Tuesday morning ripped the tarpaulin off the family home putting the family back on edge.

“We were lucky this time because we had already put our stuff in the tent on Monday night,” said Sally.

“The things inside the house got a bit wet but not the stuff in the tent.”

Sally’s 13-year-old son Robby said sleeping in the tent was fine, adding that it was a bit like camping.

“I’m glad we have this tent here, but some people don’t want to sleep in it,” said Sally.

Most people are using the tents to store their belongings and are living with other family members.