Here’s a compiled story of the aftermath of Cyclone Gita that destroyed so much of Tonga and a report on how cruising folks can help from Noonsite.com.
From Reports by The Sydney Morning Herald. Photo from The New Zealand Herald
February 17th, 2018 –Thousands of Tongans were affected when Tropical Cyclone Gita tore through the country on February 12. The second named cyclone of the South Pacific season damaged the Samoan Islands and was catastrophic for Tonga, with winds of 230km/h flattening parts of Parliament House and causing significant damage and injuries across the kingdom.
Officials said the Category 4 cyclone impacted 70 percent of the population on the main island of Tongatapu and more than 1,000 homes were destroyed or damaged.
Gita hit Tonga around 8pm on Monday night and peaked between 11pm and 2am, slamming on to the south coast of the main island of Tongatapu, bringing down electricity lines, smashing churches and levelling fruit trees and crops vital to the island’s livelihood. At its peak, winds reached 233km/h – far stronger than predicted, despite Gita not reaching a category five storm as anticipated.
According to the British Met office, Gita is the worst cyclone to pass so close to Tonga’s main islands in 60 years, and communications were lost overnight as Gita ripped the roof off the Tonga meteorological office as well as taking the national broadcaster off air for a time.
Clean-up efforts are under way with disaster response organisations and government agencies doing assessments and distributing relief items.
Local communities have rallied around each other to support aid and recovery efforts.
In Samoa there was extensive flooding, rivers burst their banks and houses were inundated. More than 200 people in Samoaneeded emergency shelter. Apia, the capital, measured 425mm of rain over the last four days, the heaviest fall, giving 148mm, during Friday night.
Gita picked up pace as it left Tonga and banked south for Fiji, however Fiji escaped major damage from the category four cyclone with no major population centres affected.
Guidance for Yachts
Sea Mercy’s (http://www.seamercy.org/) Clear Horizons program is preparing to respond with desalination units for clean drinking water, emergency shelters for operational hospitals and schools, and disaster response teams to assist the people in need.
President and Founder Richard Hackett sent the following report:
The majority of the damage from Gita in Tonga was on the primary island of Tongatapu and nearby Eua. Although they are the most populated, they also have deep water ports and an international airport to receive deliveries of emergency aid and a road system to distribute the aid to the needed areas. NZ and Australia have committed a great deal of aid and support and are delivering it via the above ports and by naval vessel and the local Red Cross and other aid agencies are involved also. Read more.