Tropical Cyclone Gita, a Category 4 system reached 110 knots or 220 kilometers per hour passed directly over the Tongatapu and ‘Eua Island group of islands between 12 to 13 February 2018. The cyclone caused extensive damage to personal property, and public infrastructure. The Government of Tonga declared a State of Emergency on 12 February 2018 which remains in force until 12 March 2018.
An estimated 80, 000 people (or around 80% of the population) were directly affected on both islands. Recent assessments estimated that 2800 homes could be damaged or destroyed.
A total of 108 evacuation centers shelters were initially established to cater for over 4,500 evacuees of which 1,225 affected families were in Tongatapu, and 264 affected families in ‘Eua. The number of evacuation centres have decreased to 46 with about 2,000 evacuees still living those centres.
Telecommunications services have been restored to about 95%. While electricity supply has been restored to all communities in ‘Eua, disruptions continue to challenge rural communities in Tongatapu. Some businesses remain closed affecting daily life and economic recovery. The communities of Tongatapu and ‘Eua have shown an incredible sense of resilience.
The impact on fruit trees and agricultural crops is substantial, with damage to staples like plantains, breadfruit and bananas. Coastal areas suffered from localized flooding. While most of the flooding has receded, stagnant water poses an increased risk as dengue fever is a major health concern in affected areas.
The Cyclone disproportionally affected children, women and girls, young people, persons living with disability and other vulnerable populations. The provision of life-saving services and equipment to rebuild everyone’s lives with dignity is critical, while ensuring that the needs of vulnerable populations are prioritized in these efforts. Operational priorities focus on the provision of clean water, vector control, waste management and the restoration of power to allow the evacuated families to return to their homes.
This draft Immediate Response Plan aims to facilitate coordination of the humanitarian response and early recovery by cluster and identifying requirements for response. The scope and emphasis of the Plan is on immediate humanitarian needs of the affected population over the emergency period ending on the 12th March, 2018 and up to three months thereafter.
Based on the priority needs identified to date, areas of response are Shelter, Water & Sanitation, Essential services, Education, Safety and Protection.