A building at the Are Tamanu Resort on the atoll of
Aitutaki in the Cook Island damaged after tropical cyclone
Pat hit early Thursday, February 11, 2010. Photo by NZ
The New Zealand Defence Force says it's amazing there
were no injuries during the cyclone which slammed Aitutaki in
the Cook Islands last week.
Hardly a home was left intact, after Tropical Cyclone Pat hit
the holiday island on February 11.
The Defence Force has been helping islanders to repair their
damaged home and restore services.
Squadron Leader Kavae Tamariki, who flew to Cooks with a
Defence Force aid team in an air force Hercules, said being
in such a devastated area was "pretty humbling." "I am amazed
that no one got hurt when you see the amount of debris lying
Aid had arrived at a crucial time and fresh water, food and
temporary shelters were providing relief, he said.
"The island has been hit pretty hard. There is a lot of work
to do restore essential services before they begin the
rebuilding process but the work has begun. We hope to make a
positive impact while we are here."
He said that 68 homes were totally destroyed and "pretty much
90% of the houses have some form of damage".
"There are a lot of people who are homeless, living in
churches or with other family members," Sqn Ldr Tamariki
Defence Force personnel were working with locals to help
restore essential services and some sense of normality after
the cyclone's devastating damage.
The Hercules had made four flights to take supplies from the
main island of Rarotonga to Aitutaki. Emergency aid included
a water purification plant from Australia which could produce
5000 litres of water an hour, temporary shelters, electrical
cabling, water containers, two bobcat diggers, blankets and
food. "People on the island have been very welcoming and
appreciate New Zealand's help," Sqn Ldr Tamariki said.
"The reception we received when we flew into Aitutaki has
been fantastic. It was surprising when you consider the
amount of damage and destruction caused by the cyclone."
The New Zealand Army Engineering sent specialists from Linton
including electricians, a builder, heavy plant operators and
Sqn Ldr Tamariki said their first task was to put up
temporary shelters for families who lost their homes. They
would also restore electricity and the main water supply.
The New Zealand Government has made an initial contribution
of $200,000 to help repair damage.