Niue (New Zealand) + 2 more

APCEDI Cyclone Heta Alert No. 12

Situation Report
Originally published
Alert #12 / 09 January 2004, Sydney 11:00 EDT
Super Cyclone Heta is now a large extratropical rain storm in the Southern Ocean to fortunately be a further menace only to penguins, seals and whales.

Situation in Niue

As media and photographic reports are illustrating, Niue has received severe to catastrophic damage across the island. This is a result of being hit by the eyewall when it was a strong Category 4 (possibly weak Category 5) Super Cyclone. Niue was the only island that actually was hit by the eyewall during the entire storm. The New Zealand Government with the help of the Australian Government and others has the relief operation well in hand. The death toll stands at 1 with 2 serious injuries both of which have been evacuated plus other minor injuries.

Since the hospital was destroyed, AFAP is looking at using its Medical Supplies and Services (MSS) Program to supply medical equipment. We have sent many containers to the Niue Hospital over the last 20 years, and have recently finished an AusAID-funded program to refurbish all the rural clinics in Bougainville after the civil war. Therefore, the MSS Program is one of the most useful ways in which AFAP/FSPI can assist Niue at this time and into the rehabilitation stage.

Situation in Tonga

Maliu Takai, the Tonga NDMO Director has reported to Dawn Pale'soo following the assessment team's visit as follows.

"The results of the survey is that there has been significant damage to fruit bearing trees on Niuatoputapu, where 100% of the breadfruit trees were destroyed, breadfruit being the main source of food. Fortunately the island has enough seedlings for corn, cassava and kumara, which they will use under the replanting scheme. Government will subsidise the cost of ploughing. Livestock is fine, there are plenty of mangoes, water and power suppy OK. They believe the real impact won't be felt for a couple of weeks, when existing food supply will run out, but Govt will then provide food relief until crops have matured.

As noted previously only a few permanent houses were affected and traditional houses reported as being damaged/destroyed can be rebuilt using local resources, so that seems to be pretty much under control. They have been in contact with Tafahi and the situations is similar to Niuatoputapu, although they haven't been able to travel there, an aerial survey has been conducted and there doesn't seem to be any significant damage, houses and coconut trees are still standing. But will not know for sure until a proper assessment is done."

Niuatoputapu and Tafahi are fortunate in that the eyewall passed offshore about 50 km to the east. Therefore while they received very severe and damaging squalls, gales and tidal surge, it was not at the catastrophic levels that were noted in Niue which received a direct hit from the eyewall. While cyclones, especially super-cyclones are usually large features in areal extent capable of producing damage over hundreds of kilometres at a given moment, the actual catastrophic-type damage seen in Niue is usually reserved for the area within the eyewall of a Category 3-5 cyclone. Therefore the difference of 20-50 kilometres can sometimes mean the difference moderate to locally severe damage which is manageable as is seen in Niuatoputapu and Tafahi and widespread catastrophic damage which can completely destroy an island such as Niue or Anuta and Tikopia in 2003.

Situation in Samoa

A Government assessment team continues to work on there report for Savai'i, and we hope to have more word later today on the outcome. Power remains out in much of Upolu which is complicating the assessment process. In Savai'i power has reported been restored in many areas, but reports from the west of the island are still lacking. Dawn Pale'soo will be arriving Monday to coordinate the FSPI/AFAP relief effort.

Last Report for Super Cyclone Heta

As APCEDI is primarily an alert and early warning system, this will be the last APCEDI report on Super-Cyclone Heta, as local and international news services are now reporting information regularly, and NDMOS are feeding reports directly to donors. This has been the first major test of the APCEDI System since the development of the AusAID HES Cooperation Agreements, and we at AFAP and FSPI greatly appreciate AusAID's support for this system. Also many thanks to Dawn Pale'soo for her coordination of these reports. AusAID likewise funds her position as Regional Disaster/Emergencies Co-odinator for FSPI. We would welcome any feedback from recipients of these reports on how to improve the APCEDI system.

Kevin Vang
APCEDI Coordinator

APCEDI is a service of the Australian Foundation for the Peoples of Asia and the Pacific (AFAP) in Sydney, Australia and the Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific International (FSPI) in Suva, Fiji. It is used primarily for internal FSP information to provide information about effected areas with development projects in the AFAP, FSPI network in the Asia Pacific Region.