14 Apr 2020

Cyclone Harold has already cost Fiji millions of dollars

6:12 am on 14 April 2020

Fiji's government says the cost of Cyclone Harold has already run into the millions even before full damage assessments have been made.

On Sunday the government declared a State of Natural Disaster for areas affected by last week's cyclone.

A house destroyed from Cyclone Harold in Fiji

A house destroyed from Cyclone Harold in Fiji Photo: FIJI NDMO

Disaster Management Minister, Jone Usamate, said the declaration was for certain parts of the Eastern, Central and Western Divisions.

He said those areas were now gauging damage from the storm.

"The various divisions that we have in Fiji have already begun to conduct their damage assessments.

"This is conducted by the people on the ground and in the Northern Division this has been completed and the other divisions are continuing with that exercise."

Mr Usamate said agricultural damage suffered in the Northern Division was estimated to stand at $US834,000.

He said assistance being sent out to the other divisions, including two weeks worth of food rations and medicines, had cost more than $US1.5 million.

Meanwhile the minister conceded it was a challenge to simultaneously deal with the devastation of Cyclone Harold and the Covid-19 outbreak, of which Fiji had 16 cases.

Mr Usamate said while aid and assessment teams had been sent out, the government still had to be conscious of its own Covid-19 measures.

Suva has been under lockdown since a number of cases were confirmed there last week.

The minister said this meant the government had to find additional help, including 30 medical staff, from outside of the capital.

"We've had to make sure that everybody we are taking out to the islands, that none of these people are coming from the Suva lockdown area. We have had to source civil servants to go on these trips from the Western Division, from the Central Division, outside the lockdown area. "

Mr Usamate said Covid-19 protocols were also being adhered to in the more than 60 evacuation centres operating across the country.

Disaster Management Minister, Jone Usamate

Disaster Management Minister, Jone Usamate Photo: Fiji Govt