(New York, 16 March 2005): The
UNDAC team has completed assessments in the islands of Mauke and Atiu in
the Southern Group of the Cook Islands and confirmed that these islands
are not in a state of emergency.
In Tokelau, however, significant damage was seen on all three atolls of Fakaofo, Nukunonu and Atafu, with Nukunonu being the worst hit. Extensive beach erosion was present on each island. All atolls have lost most of their staple crops, particularly the swamp taro, bananas, pawpaws, and coconut. The loss of the coconut crop is important as it is used both for food and for drink on the islands.
In Tokelau, the storm damaged the marine environment, with many live corals being covered in sand and debris, and most of the fish habitats destroyed. Clean up of debris has taken place on Fakaofo and Atafu. On Nukunonu, where the impact was greatest, much debris remains to be cleared. Schools and hospitals have also been damaged, with much school equipment lost or damaged and some loss to the minimal medical equipment available at the hospitals.
On 26 February, Cyclone Percy pounded Tokelau with winds from 178 to 249 kilometres per hour, causing widespread damage to the three atolls: Atafu (population 500 - 600), Nukunonu (population 400 - 450) and Fakaofo (population 500). Tokelau consists of a group of three atolls in the South Pacific, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand. The cyclone also moved through American Samoa and passed the northern part of the Cook Islands.
In the northern Cooks Region, the French Polynesian Government has mobilized personnel to Pukapuka for the clean up. The Cook Island Government patrol boat has been designated to service the sea passage between Pukapuka and Nassau. About 20 volunteers for clearing and building have been organized by Internal Affairs and will travel to Pukapuka. Heavy machinery will be carried on the boat to address clearing and building materials.
In Tokelau, an initial delivery of relief supplies, including food, water and other basics has arrived on the atolls, funded by contributions from New Zealand, Australia, UNDP, Samoan community groups and Tokelauans in New Zealand.
For further information, please call:
In New York: Stephanie Bunker,
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