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Tropical Cyclone Gita - Feb 2018

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Tropical Cyclone Gita passed by Samoa on 10 February 2018 and Niue on 11 February 2018, with damages reported in Samoa, including localized flooding. According to the Fiji Meteorological Service, Tropical Cyclone Gita is forecast to arrive in Tonga on...12 February...in the evening. It is forecast to enter Fijian territory passing the Southern Lau Group on...13 February... (OCHA, 11 Feb 2018)

A State of Emergency was declared by the Government of Tonga at 10 am on...12 February for initially one month. In Fiji, a cyclone alert has been issued for the Southern Lau Island Group, Kadavu and smaller islands...where the cyclone is expected to be passing through these waters on...13...February. This will continue as Tropical Cyclone Category 4 as it approaches further South-West from Fiji. Whilst in Samoa, the Government of Samoa stated a Declaration of Disaster for 48 hours starting on 10 February. TC Gita caused extensive flooding in low lying, coastal and river areas around Savai’I and Upolu. There were damages on vegetation and power was also disrupted. There was widespread flooding especially in the Vaisigano catchment area. (IFRC, 12 Feb 2018)

[TC] Gita continued moving south-southwest away from Fiji and Tonga. On 15 February at 0.00 UTC, it was located 460 km south-east of Aneityum island (Vanuatu) and had maximum sustained winds of 194 km/h...According to media, as of 15 February at 7.00 UTC, in Tonga one person died, 33 people were injured, 4 500 people were moved into 108 evacuation centres and over 2 700 houses were damaged in the two worst affected islands of Tongatapu and 'Eua (Tonga). In Fiji, media reported no casualties or injuries. The population of Ono-i-Lau (around 470 people) was evacuated into several evacuation centres inside the island. (ECHO, 15 Feb 2018)

[TC] Gita continued moving south-southwest away from Fiji and Tonga. On 16 February at 0.00 UTC, it was located 230 km south-east of Mare island (New Caledonia) and had maximum sustained winds of 176 km/h. Gita is forecast to weaken and pass approximately 100-150 km south of the islands of Koutoumo and Pins (New Caledonia) on 16 February morning UTC. (ECHO, 16 Feb 2018)

Pacific Humanitarian Team professionals are supporting Government and partners in responding to the immediate health, shelter and water and sanitation needs of affected communities in Tonga. Essential supplies are being sent to support children to return to school and dignity kits for displaced persons. Assistance to support early recovery and education response is now being deployed (UN RC, 19 Feb 2018).

Th[e] 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 12...March 2018... The immediate response requirements during the emergency period and up to three months thereafter are estimated at TOP$65.3 million. (Govt. Tonga, 23 Feb 2018)

As of 23 February, 205 families are still in evacuation centers...The number of evacuation centres has decreased from 96 at the height of the disaster to 46, with 41 in Tongatapu and five in Eua. (OCHA, 26 Feb 2018)

As of 1 March, the number of active evacuation centers on Tongatapu and ‘Eua has significantly declined to five. Of these, two evacuation centers on Tongatapu are housing 4 families, and three evacuation centers on ‘Eua housing 11 families. (Govt. Tonga, 1 Mar 2018)

The TC Gita response was led during the emergency phase by National Emergency Management Office (NEMO). During this phase, relief agencies distributed c. 6,500 tarpaulins and 1,288 tool kits. This means that most households have received tarpaulins and tools are accessible to one in every four families with damaged houses. The emergency shelter phase has been quick and comprehensive and provides a strong basis for early recovery. The Ministry of Infrastructure, taking over from NEMO, is now responsible for recovery coordination (Govt. Tonga, Shelter Cluster, 8 Mar 2018).

Government-led assessment teams have been deployed to assess the extent of damage to essential services, power and electricity, agricultural crops and school buildings, where damage was thought to be most severe in Tongatapu and ‘Eua. Latest figures released by NEMO indicates 1,991 houses have been damaged and destroyed in Tongatapu, and 257 in ‘Eua, for a total of 2,248 houses damaged or destroyed. Assessments numbers are still being tallied and analyzed with an expected rise to approximately 20 per cent of houses across the affected areas, where up to 2,800 houses could be damaged or destroyed. Approximately 4,500 people sought refuge in evacuations centres. To date, all evacuees who were sheltered in about 108 evacuations centres in Tongatapu have returned to their usual place of residence. (IFRC, 31 Mar 2018)