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Veteran volunteer heads for Samoa

A Taranaki man will be welcoming in the New Year in Samoa - but as part of the cyclone relief effort rather than on holiday.Mike Langford flew to Samoa yesterday as part of the New Zealand contingent of the Adventist Development Relief Agency to provide his expertise in emergency response as the island nation cleans up after it was devastated by Cyclone Evan earlier this month.The category 4 cyclone killed at least 5 people, including two children, and 11 people are still missing.It also knocked out power, water and communications and caused other major damage which saw around 5,500 Samoans spend Christmas in evacuation centres.For the next two weeks, Mr Langford will work 14-to-16-hour days helping those people move back home.\We're there to support the New Zealand funded programme to get people out of the centres and into their homes.\The New Zealand Government has provided $2.6 million for the recovery effort in Samoa and experts from a range of government organisations were deployed.Mr Langford spent five years as Taranaki's Civil Defence senior emergency management officer and dealt with the aftermath of tornados in New Plymouth and flooding in the Waitotara Valley.He also went to help in Sri Lanka in 2009 after the civil war and was involved in the Christchurch earthquake recovery effort.He said he understood there was less structural damage in Samoa than there had been in Christchurch.