Crops destroyed, houses damage as Vavaʻu outer islands feel the worst from Cyclone Ula

    Tonga’s outer island group of Vava’u bore the brunt of Cyclone Ula, with fruit crops  destroyed on the eve of the harvesting season.

    Kaniva News’s correspondent reported the destruction of crops on the main island of Neiafu.

    The tropical cyclone watch for Tonga has been cancelled and the cyclone is now heading south west towards the Lau Group in Fiji.

    Cyclone Ula caused significant damage in Tuvalu, Kiribati and Tokelau.

    No deaths or injuries were reported after Cyclone Ula left Tonga last night.

    However, on Neiafu, some small houses were damaged, as well as a number of shelters and buildings that had not been built properly.

    The harvesting season for crops such as breadfruit, mangoes and vi has been cut short by the cyclone.

    By the time the full force of Cyclone Ula hit the islands, residents had prepared by nailing timbers or tins over windows of their houses.

    Jason 4
    Category Three Tropical Cyclone Ula was passing near the northern island of Vava’u where there were reports of damage to crops and houses. Photo/Courtesy of Jason Takitoa Taumoepeau

     

     

    Boats and yachts were pulled inland for safety and most fishing vessels at sea sought shelter in safe anchorages.

    Letio Taufa Katoa from Matamaka Island said that when the cyclone was closest yesterday afternoon, “it was raining heavily and the cyclone was very strong.”

    She said no houses had been blown away.

    She wrote on her Facebook account that Ula should leave immediately and let the remaining banana trees survive so the people had food.

    Photos obtained by Kaniva News from Neiafu show mangos that had been blown down in the cyclone covering  the ground.

    Hunga 2
    Locals at Hunga Island are pulling this boat inland for safety as Cyclone Ula approached. Photo/Courtesy of Napa’a Halatanu (Hunga Town Officer)

     

    Our correspondent said members of the Police, Defence Force, Tonga Power and officials from the Ministry of Infrastructure worked quickly and efficiently to make sure people were safe.

    The Tonga Power Board switched off Neiafu’s main power supply about 4am on Friday, January 1, as a safety measure.

    The Tonga Telecommunication Commission base was also switched off to safeguard its communication satellite connections. However, the Digicel communication company operated as normal.

    Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni, who also chairs Tonga’s National Emergency and Management Board said people should contact the governor’s office, police or town officers  if they had problems with roads, water or any emergency needs.

    Jason 7
    Mangoes and other fruit crops had been blown down by the cyclone covering the ground. Photo/ Courtesy of Jason Takitoa Taumoepeau

    He said they could make contact with the National Emergency Management Office in Tonga from time to time.

    Hon. Sovaleni said the Mormon church halls had been made available for people to stay in there if they felt their houses were not safe.

    Cyclone warning cancelled

    Tropical Cyclone Ula has left Tonga and is expected to lie 450 kilometres west-northwest of Fua’amotu, Tongatapu  or 445km west of Tofua in Ha’apai or 485km west of Ha’afeva in Ha’api at around 7pm this evening.

    The Fua’amotu Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre said in its Tropical Cyclone Warning advisory number 22 at 5.20pm on Sunday, January 3, that the tropical cyclone warning previously in force for Ha’apai, Tongatapu and ‘Eua had been cancelled.

    The gale warning previously in force for Ha’apai, Tongatapu and ‘Eua has also been cancelled.

    The strong wind warning previously in force for Vava’u, Niuatoputapu and Niuafo’ou has been cancelled, but remains in force for Tongatapu and Haapai.

    The warning of heavy damaging swells previously in force for the Niuas, Vava’u and Ha’apai has been cancelled, but remains in force for Tongatapu and ‘eua coastal waters.

    The heavy rain warning previously in force for Vava’u and Ha’apai has been cancelled.

    The main points

    • Tonga’s outer island group of Vava’u bore the brunt of Cyclone Ula, with fruit crops destroyed on the eve of the harvesting season.
    • The tropical cyclone watch for Tonga has been cancelled and the cyclone is now heading south west towards the Lau Group in Tonga.
    • No deaths or injuries were reported after Cyclone Ula left Tonga last night.
    • However, on Neiafu, some small houses were damaged, as well as a number of shelters and buildings that had not been built properly.

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