Tonga + 3 more

Pacific Islands Cyclone Gita Humanitarian Situation Report #2, 16 February 2018

Situation Report
Originally published



• On 14 February, the Government of Tonga requested UN support, through the humanitarian cluster system, to respond to the severe Tropical Cyclone (TC) Gita that hit Tonga on the night of 12-13 February as a Category 4 system. In Tonga, to date, there are 108 evacuation centres for 4,500 evacuees, including 1,225 affected families in Tongatapu and 264 affected families in Eua.

• On 16 February, a Tropical Cyclone Response Plan, prepared by the Tonga National Emergency Management Committee was released with initial needs detailed for response. Following the initial Government assessments, based on priority needs, an estimated TOP$40.9 million (US$23 million) is required in the areas of Shelter,
Water and Sanitation, Essential services, Education, Safety and Protection.

• UNICEF is supporting the response in Tonga through the humanitarian cluster system. In Fiji there has been no request for UN support. The UN humanitarian team provided support to Samoa.

Tonga Response:

79,556 people affected (79% population)

31,882 children affected

1,131 homes partially damaged

119 homes totally destroyed

108 of evacuation centres

4,500 evacuee

Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs

Samoa: TC Gita passed just south of Samoa as a Category 1 cyclone on the evening of 10 February. TC Gita caused damage to power and water supply infrastructure leading to the disconnection of these critical services in most parts of the country. Road access around the country was disrupted due to flooding and landslides. Telecommunication, internet connectivity and mobile communications remained functional but disrupted due to intermittent power outages. Media broadcast outlets also experienced disruption to their services due to the power outage. Government offices, educational facilities and private businesses were also closed due to the impact of the cyclone except for essential public services supporting the provision of emergency response actions to ensure the safety of the public. Felled trees and uprooted crops such as banana and breadfruit trees were observed throughout the country. Many residential areas in the greater Apia urban area were impacted by flooding and many homes sustained damage their roofs. 236 persons were evacuated to 2 designated evacuation centres but many others self-evacuated to church halls, families and friends.

The initial rapid assessment revealed that while there was minimal wind damage to structures, flooding in the greater Apia urban area had a severe impact on families and businesses. This assessment also noted loss of large areas of vegetation, banana and other crops particularly in the high lands of the islands. The National Disaster Council approved the extension of the Declaration of Disaster. The Government of Samoa is seeking assistance to assist the affected families in the flood affected areas through the provision of much needed relief both food and non-food items, clearance and removal of debris as well as conducting aerial assessment of key watershed and forest areas. The total financial support required is SAT$394,343.00 (US$157,155). The Pacific Humanitarian Team – UN is funding the aerial assessment.

Niue: Whilst initially expected to be directly in the path of TC Gita, the cyclone tracked east of Niue as it was upgraded to a Category 3 system. Strong winds affected the country but according to the media there were no reports of injury or of any damage.

Tonga: On Monday night, 12 February (local time) and 13 February, the eye of TC Gita passed just south of the low-lying Tongatapu islands group in southern Tonga, where the country's most populous island, Tongatapu Island, and the capital city Nukuʻalofa are located. This is the strongest recorded storm to have struck the island nation in its history. There are reports of one fatality with some people reportedly sustaining injuries. It has been reported by the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) that 79% of the population has been affected.

NEMO is coordinating the response and initial damage assessments are ongoing. 108 evacuation centres were established with 4,500 evacuees. Electricity is reportedly down leaving people without power. Hospitals are reportedly operational using generators, although there are concerns that contaminated flood water may spread disease. There are reports of damage to some schools. Both telecommunication providers were still operating in all of Tongatapu, Ha’apai and ‘Eua, albeit with intermittent coverage.

Fiji: TC Gita passed into Fiji waters on Tuesday, 13 February and affected 1,579 people in the southern Lau group of islands. The Government of Fiji is focusing its response on Ono-i-Lau and Vatoa islands. There is no request for support from the UN Humanitarian team.