Tonga cleans up as Fiji awaits cyclone
TONGA: Tonga began cleaning up yesterday after Cyclone Gita hit, while some people in nearby Fiji began preparing for the storm to hit them.
Gita destroyed homes and churches in Tonga and caused widespread power outages after it tore through the island nation just south of the capital, Nuku’alofa. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries or deaths.
The cyclone was packing winds of over 200kmh when it made landfall. The Tongan government has declared a state of emergency.
The cyclone was continuing to intensify and was predicted to hit some of Fiji’s southern islands last night. Experts are predicting that the storm will miss Fiji’s major population centres, including the capital, Suva.
About 2500 people living on two of Fiji’s islands were at risk, the nation’s National Disaster Management Office said. Director Anare Leweniqila said emergency supplies of food and water were being gathered, and he urged eld- erly and disabled people to begin moving into evacuation centres.
The storm has strengthened since hitting Samoa and American Samoa last week, where it caused damage to buildings, widespread power outages and flooding.
United States President Donald Trump has declared an emergency in American Samoa. This allows the US Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide equipment and resources to help the 50,000 residents recover.
Chris Brandolino, a scientist at New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, said flooding and coastal inundation were likely to cause as many problems in Tonga as the damage from the winds. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her government was ready to help.
Before the storm hit, publisher Pesi Fonua said people were busy nailing boards and roofing iron to their homes to try to limit the damage from flying coconuts, trees and other debris. – AP
Cyclone Gita caused widespread devastation as it ploughed across Tonga, tearing the roofs off houses and churches, uprooting trees, leaving roads blocked by debris, and causing flooding that saw homes become islands. The storm was predicted to hit Fiji’s southern islands overnight.