11 Apr 2017

All alerts lifted in New Caledonia following Cyclone Cook

3:24 pm on 11 April 2017

All cyclone alerts have been lifted in New Caledonia as the territory gradually returns to normal after Cyclone Cook.

Public services have gradually re-opened this morning in the New Caledonian capital Noumea after the territory was battered by the cyclone.

The cyclone was now a category two storm after hitting the island as a category three and is heading south.

The latest warning advising people to limit their movements during the clear up was lifted at midday local time.

President of the government Philippe Germain praised New Caledonians for taking heed of the warnings which left the territory relatively unscathed.

Four people were reported to have been injured in New Caledonia after the storm crossed the main island overnight.

Authorities said workers had been out clearing fallen trees off roads and ensuring safety since dawn.

The local media report thousands of people still remain without power, and there is debris from fallen trees, and some damage to homes.

Swimming at all Noumea's beaches was banned for 48 hours.

Noumea this morning after Cyclone Cook hit New Caledonia.

Noumea this morning after Cyclone Cook hit New Caledonia. Photo: Supplied/ Colin Tukuitonga

Meteo France said in Thio, on the east coast, a total of 350mm of rain fell in 24 hours and authorities were also recommending people in some areas boil water for consumption and limit their water usage.

Areas included Dumbea, Mont Dore, Paita, La Foa and Boulouparis.

Scheduled Air Calin and Air Caledonie flights in and out of Tontouta have been cancelled today and scheduled flights are set to resume tomorrow.

There are no scheduled Air New Zealand flights to the territory today.

The LIVE map below is provided by Esri

Meteo New Caledonia forecaster Virgil Cavarero told Reuters the category three cyclone had been predicted to hit as a category four, which would have been even more devastating.

Heavy rain, gales and high seas around New Caledonia will gradually ease tomorrow as it moves away.

Mixed reports from Vanuatu

Meanwhile, Vanuatu's National Disaster Management Office said it now has a picture of the extent of damage caused by Cyclone Cook when it hit the country.

Cook brought widespread flooding to the archipelago at the weekend.

The Department's planning and research officer, Peter Korisa, said there had been been some damage to crops, parts of Efate were flooded and a number people were forced to seek emergency shelter.

Mr Korisa said it was a mixed picture for disaster officials.

He said there was extensive flooding on Efate and as a result the island has WASH or water, sanitation and health issues.

He says other islands, such as Epi, appeared to have experienced a lot more wind and this caused damage, mostly to root crops, but also banana and papaya.

Mr Korisa said there were not large numbers in emergency shelters and on Monday six of the nine sites on Efate were shut down and the people taken back to their homes.

He said on other islands people used the shelters on Sunday but returned to their homes during Monday.

World Vision in Vanuatu said the impact of Cyclone Cook on food gardens was much less than the damage caused by Cyclone Pam.

The organisation's acting programme director Ceasar Gayadon said mainly crops situated in low lying areas on Efate were the worst affected, but the impact was nowhere near as bad or as costly, compared to the devastation caused by last year's Cyclone Pam.

"There are some areas here in Efate but only those that are fully within or near the seashore or near some of the rivers that were really affected as there was heavy rain. So of course all the ordinary people doing their small gardens, they were really the ones most affected."

Mr Gayadon said the clean up was ongoing.