More than 300 people in the northern islands displaced by TC Pam

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More than 300 people, mostly women, children and elderly people, on the three northern islands of Nanumea, Nanumaga and Niutao in Tuvalu have been displaced by Tropical Cyclone Pam.

A Fenui News team that travelled to these three islands said strong winds and storm surges flooded low lying areas and damaged properties and crops in all the three islands.

Nanumea Kaupule Secretary Sipele T Samuelu said the Island Disaster Committee was activated on March 17 to patrol the island every two hours and moving families along the coast to evacuation centres.

“Our disaster committee evacuated all those living near the western coast of the island including our EKT Minister Reverend Alefaio Honolulu and his family to Nameana II Falekaupule,” said Samuelu.

“Most of the houses were badly damaged by big waves and debris washed ashore. Some families have remained at the evacuation centers until the Government Assessment Team arrived last week to carry out the assessment on the island, said Samuelu.

On Nanumaga Island, most families affected were relocated to their families who lived in-land while some were evacuated to the Lotohoni Primary School.

The nurse at Niutao set up a temporary clinic at Webley Primary School during the disaster but has to move back to the clinic when school resumed last week.

“The nurses’ quarters on the island were also affected. The surges swept into the houses and damaged personal items. Our old clinic was hit and the beams are starting to crack, therefore we moved everything and set up inside the men’s ward,” said Failo Ken.

One old man from Nanumea Lolesi Samuelu said he was thankful to the disaster committee because they arrived in time to help them relocate as strong winds and storm surges continued to hammer the island.

He said once the cleaning up is done, they will move to their houses but life would not be the same again.

A resident on Niutao Island, Tia Tupou whose house was badly battered by storm surges said he was thinking of resettling further inland because he believed that a disaster like this will continue to occur in the future.

Most of the families on the northern islands lost their properties to the disaster.