20 Feb 2018

Cyclone Gita: Most homes in Tonga's 'Eua damaged

8:18 pm on 20 February 2018

A town officer on the Tongan island of 'Eua says up to 75 percent of houses in her communities have been damaged by Cyclone Gita.

Children on 'Eua use debris as a playground.

Children on 'Eua use debris as a playground. Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koro Vaka'uta

Just over a week ago the then category four storm swept over 'Eua, which lies some 40 kilometres southeast of the main island of Tongatapu.

Melenaite Sisifa Fili said most of the homes in the six villages she oversees were impacted significantly by the storm with nearly 30 percent destroyed.

There are seven evacuation centres on the island which still harbour a number of families.

But Ms Fili said the initial clean-up had been successful, thanks to the community coming together.

"Everyone stood up and gave a hand too... They all worked as a team, the police and all those people whose houses were not damage, they all went out and lent a hand to all those people.

"And that's why everything was quick to be recovered on this island."

Meanwhile, the prospect of food shortages looms on 'Eua with many hanging fruit crops destroyed, and that which remained only enough to last a month.

'Eua has a large agricultural sector which exports to the other Tongan islands and beyond.

The government representative for the island, Sunia Havea said the cyclone destroyed their entire stock of banana and breadfruit crops, wihle for some farmers lucrative kava trees were devastated.

According to Mr Havea, root crops like yam and taro would not last long.

"As we estimate and lok at it, it's not going to last for a month. It's important, and we have talked about it with all those aid groups that visited our island.

It is important to start planning to help with supplies of food for the next few months."

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