14 Apr 2020

Wharves and coastal roads in Tonga need repairing after Cyclone Harold

12:51 pm on 14 April 2020

The biggest issues confronting disaster officials in Tonga following last week's battering from Cyclone Harold are the state of wharves in 'Eua and Ha'apai and some of the coastal roads on both 'Eua and Tongatapu.

Waterfront offices in 'Eua were destroyed by Cyclone Harold

Waterfront offices in 'Eua were destroyed by Cyclone Harold Photo: supplied 'Ofa Guttenbeil Likiliki

When the severe cyclone hit, it coincided with a king tide, which caused considerable coastal damage.

The chief executive of the National Emergency Management Office, Paula Ma'u, said on 'Eua this wrecked a number of houses and offices and also eroded a graveyard.

He said some of the bodies had been recovered but others had been swept out to sea.

Mr Ma'u said people whose homes were inundated on 'Eua and also around Tongatapu's Fanga'uta Lagoon, had been rehoused in tents and supplied with kitchen equipment.

NEMO Chief Executive, Paula Ma'u

NEMO Chief Executive, Paula Ma'u Photo: R2R Media

Sixteen houses on 'Eua and a number on the main island had been reported destroyed.

On Ha'apai, the road to the airport and a vital causeway link, which had been impacted and eroded by a series of storms earlier in the year, suffered further damage.

Mr Ma'u said the biggest impact from the cyclone was the sea surge, which had been put at three metres.

He said the impact of the surge on several resorts on the west of Tongatapu was huge with the repair bill likely to run into the millions.

Some plantations suffered significant wind damage but Mr Ma'u wasn't expecting food supply to be an issue at this stage.

Ruins of Vakaloa Resort, west Tongatapu, following TC Harold.

Ruins of Vakaloa Resort, west Tongatapu, following TC Harold. Photo: #ToddHenryPhoto

Red Cross focussed on housing

Meanwhile the local Red Cross Society was focussing on meeting the needs of homeowners on Tongatapu and 'Eua whose houses were wrecked.

A number of people on 'Eua, and around the lagoon on the main island, had received tents, cooking utensils and solar electricity units.

The general secretary Sione Taumoefolau said in some cases people were able to use tarpaulins to provide temporary cover but many of the houses had been completely destroyed.

He said they would be relying on the Red Cross in Australia and New Zealand to replenish stocks they had already handed out.