Overview of the situation
Tropical Cyclone Gita passed by Samoa on 10 February 2018, Niue on 11 February 2018, Tonga on 12 February and Fiji on February 13, as a destructive Category 4 storm. It caused extensive flooding in low lying, coastal and river areas around Savai’I and Upolu. There was widespread flooding especially in the Vaisigano catchment area.
Pacific Humanitarian Team professionals are supporting Government and partners in responding to the immediate health, shelter and water and sanitation needs of affected communities in Tonga. Essential supplies are being sent to support children to return to school and dignity kits for displaced persons. Assistance to support early recovery and education response is now being deployed.
As of 23 February, 205 families are still in evacuation centers as a result of Tropical Cyclone Gita. The number of evacuation centres has decreased from 96 at the height of the disaster to 46, with 41 in Tongatapu and five in Eua. Humanitarian partners continue to support the Government-led response through the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO), line Ministries and national clusters. Following TC Gita, more than 1,900 houses and 85 schools have been damaged. There has also been a significant impact on agriculture, with 80 per cent of fruit trees and 50 per cent of root crops damaged.
Government, humanitarian and private sector actors are coordinating action on the ground to provide support and deliver aid to the people in need. In Tonga, which is the most affected island after Cyclone Gita, here are the reported damage.
Humanitarian relief supplies
- 7 Australian Defence Force (ADF) C-17 Globemaster flights transported humanitarian relief supplies and technical teams
- 135 tonnes of humanitarian supplies were provided
- Emergency shelter tool kits were provided for over 2000 families
- A medical specialist was deployed to conduct a health assessment
- 4 Disaster Assistant Response Team members were deployed to conduct structural assessments of damaged public buildings
- 6 DFAT crisis response experts were deployed to support implementation of Australia’s response
- 2 tents were provided to serve as women friendly spaces
- Solar lights were provided to over 2000 families
Wash and health support
- 1000 dengue test kits were provided to Tonga Health
- Supplies to assist the sexual and reproductive health and safety of more than 2000 women
- 200 clean birthing kits were provided to the community
- 5 large generators to provide emergency electricity to village health clinics and up to 1000 homes
- Early recovery support through civil society partners and the Red Cross Movement
- 20 electrical line mechanics working with Tonga Power Limited to restore electricity across Tongatapu
11th March, 2019 A team of four from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, a New Zealand based Crown Research Institute, is currently upgrading Tonga Meteorological Observation network through installing new meteorology and coastal automatic weather stations throughout Tonga aiming to enhance data collection, weather, tsunami and climate data monitoring, severe weather watch and warning including tropical cyclones across Tonga land areas and all of its coastal waters.
The new system is part of the activities of the Asian Development Bank’s Climate Resilience Sector Project that is currently implemented MEIDECC’s Department of Climate Change. A total of USD$1.8 million have been designated to fund this activity.
The system includes:
22 Automatic Weather Stations (AWS);
Two permanent sea level recorders; and
Eight temporary wave and water level recorders.
A few of the AWS have been installed in October last year in Niuafo’ou and Niuatoputapu, together with eight temporary wave and water recorders throughout Tonga waters. Data from these eight temporary recorders are to use to model waves and swells especially in all of the harbours in Tonga.
Some of the AWS are located at schools’ compounds to boost and promote to students the importance of studying weather, weather monitoring and research.
The AWS are all telemetered and reporting in near real time. The permanent sea level recorders are also telemetered and reporting in real time which will assist tsunami early warning. One of the permanent sea level recorders have been deployed. The temporary wave and water level recorders have all been deployed.
Part of the activity is a consultation with maritime stakeholders set for next week. The discussion is expected to verify the sector’s needs in order to strengthen the development of relevant and useful information products at Tonga Met Service.
Issued by the: Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change & Communications.