Niue recovery at $23 million, Alofi to be relocated

Report
from East-West Center
Published on 20 Jan 2004
ALOFI, Niue (Niue News Jan. 20) - It has been estimated that Niue's rebuilding program will cost around NZ$35million (US$23 million) over a five year period in the wake of the worst storm to hit in the country's history.

Cash strapped Niue, with a population of 1,300, will be dependent on New Zealand assistance, Australian Aid and European Union capital.

The Niue government has decided to re-locate the capitol, Alofi - homes, businesses, the hospital and the Hotel Niue to the upper plateau around Fonuakula.

Alofi South, from the main road intersection to the airport, looks like a bombsite, with rubble and debris spread over the area formerly known as the "Golden Mile" - now re-named the "Desert Road."

Also under consideration for re-location is the village of Makefu, where at least seven homes were devastated or demolished, the village church - recently re-roofed - was obliterated.

In other developments, building materials and petrol are being shipped to Niue.

The bulk fuel depot was badly damaged by the cyclone and petrol has been rationed. Roofing iron, nails and timber, plumbing and electrical gear is also in demand as property owners work around the clock to get their businesses up and running.

The Chamber of Commerce isdiscussing private sector assistance.

A former chief of police on Niue, Alastair (Roly) Williams, a senior police officer in Wellington, is on Niue assisting local police to investigate claims of looting during the cyclone.

Several residents have publicly voiced their anger at people "in high jobs" looting grocery stores and businesses battered by the cyclone.

There have also been allegations of relief allocations being unfairly distributed.

Niue's hospital services have been set up in the Youth Centre at Fonuakula. Australian military medical officers are assisting.

Schools are due to re-open next week. The Niue Primary and High Schools sustained little damage and are fully staffed.

Most village water reticulation services are back in action and electricity and phone services restored.

Refuse collections have been maintained and government offices have been re-opened. The Justice Department has moved to a vacant government purchased house at Fonuakula.

The Fale Fono Parliament building sustained water damage but no major structural damage.

For those familiar with Alofi South - the area south of Halamahaga School - residences including Gabes Food Bar disappeared in a wall of water and rocks, Niue Adventures shop is a heap of rubble along with Alofi Rentals office and yard. [ Alofi Rentals was one of the first businesses to commence construction on new offices days after Heta hit]. Family homes on both sides of the main road to the intersection at Tapeu Hill, including Central Services Petrol Station were smashed to pieces, broken walls exposing refrigerators and stock on shelving.

The national museum has been demolished relics of the past lost under tons of debris or swept out to sea , the island's cultural center unrecognizable.

The Justice Department and Courthouse were wrecked along with the adjacent Niue Dive office and residence.

The Lord Liverpool Hospital which recently underwent a $2 million refurbishment is a write off - massive waves bashing huge rocks through the operating theatre, wards and offices.

The former Matron's residence was swept off its foundations.

Government flats on both sides of the road were demolished their tenants running from a deadly wall of water and seeking safety in the bush areas at the back of the properties.

The Hotel Niue recently re-opened after a group of local shareholders took a lease on the government owned 32-room property was doomed early in the raging cyclone.

Further along the road at Amanau the Niue Joinery was swept into the side of an adjacent grocery shop wrecking it, a panel-beating shop on the public works site disappeared and parts of the roof on the main public works workshop were blown southwards.

The Waimanu Guesthouse was structurally damaged as were homes, the former K Mart shop, Claytons Night Club and the Niue Island United Enterprises service station.

The Government quarry crushing equipment was toppled and is out of action.

Most tourist properties also took a bad hit but the flagship Matavai Resort survived almost unscathed.

Pelenis Guesthouse, Kololi's Guesthouse were undamaged; Sails Restaurant was badly damaged by mountainous waves and rocks and although the Coral Gardens five motel units survived the onslaught the interiors suffered major water damage.

Anaiki Motel escaped major damage to the units while Namukulu Motel experienced major damage to two of its three cottages and the swimming pool.

At Alofi North homes on the seaward side of the road are now unsafe; several were demolished by the sea and 300 kmph winds.

The commercial center was safe, several offices at the rear of the Westpac Bank lost their roof , the contents of the buildings spread across the center of the village. They included Okakoa Communications and Jacksons Printing Office home of the community newspaper the Niue Star.

Niue's bulk fuel department was counting its losses at the wharf-side fuel depot. One large holding tank was compressed by the seas and skewed five meters off its foundations.