22 Feb 2016

Vava'u residents in Tonga grateful Winston veered away

3:42 pm on 22 February 2016

The Office of the Governor in Vava'u in Tonga said locals were thankful that the impact of Cyclone Winston there was not as great as had been feared.

The storm came close to Vava'u twice last week before increasing in intensity and hitting Fiji.

Masina Talakai said teams were out today compiling a full report on the damage to homes and crops.

Earlier assessments said 10 houses had been destroyed with 200 more left damaged.

Ms Talakai pointed out that everyone in Vava'u was quick to help clean up the damage once Winston passed.

"Well the people here are so thankful and I think it's the Lord that saved Tonga from this cyclone and they are not that badly affected."

Meanwhile, the Tongan community in New Zealand has begun to organise relief efforts for families in Vava'u.

The Pacific Leadership Forum met with members of the Fijian and Tongan community on Sunday night to determine what assistance is needed to help those affected by tropical cyclone Winston.

Tongan community leader Letele Tui Afitu-Tiseli, said that while Fiji is the priority, people in Vava'u also need help.

About 200 families were badly hit by the cyclone, and she explained that the main priority was providing them with water and food.

"Some of the members they are having a dialogue to have some idea of whether they can get some containers and a drop-off area. Because for our people, it will be easier for them to donate food, like bag of sugar, flour, water."

Letele Tui Afitu-Tiseli said they expected to have confirmed the location drop off points around Auckland by this evening.

Power lines down after Cyclone Winston hit Vava'u

Power lines down after Cyclone Winston hit Vava'u Photo: Oxfam NZ