TONGA is thankful no casualties was reported after Tropical Cyclone Winston battered Tongatapu, Ha’apai and Vava’u in the last 48 hours.
The Deputy Prime Minister Hon Siaosi Sovaleni reveals this in Parliament this morning.
He said fallen trees and power lines were the only damage reported in Tongatapu caused by strong winds brought by TC Winston.
Hon. Sovaleni said electricity in some areas were switched off in Tongatapu for safety reasons and it is expected to be restored this afternoon.
TC Winston brought heavy rain and an average wind speed up to 95km/hr with momentary gust of 130km/hr of Tongatapu early yesterday morning.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes in Ha’apai and Vava’u when the powerful cyclone slams onto these islands.
Sovaleni says more than 140 people took refuge in church and community halls in Vava’u and Ha’apai respectively.
“Most of the people took shelter in the Free Wesleyan Church and also the Latter Day Saints’ church hall. For that reason, I thank the church and community for providing evacuation centers for the people affected in Ha’apai and Vava’u.
He also reported that the impact of the category 2 cyclone was felt in Vava’u as the powerful winds of Tropical Winston was about 40 kilometers away of Neiafu at around 10pm last night.
Hon. Sovaleni added there were damages to some homes in Vava’u but the extent of the damages is yet to be known. Meanwhile, Govenrment is considering deploying a team to assess the damage on the island, but this depends on the weather condition.
The Deputy PM says TC Winston has left Vava’u but now has been upgraded to a category 3 cyclone.
He adds on its current track, Winston is expected to return via Vava’u and other areas including Tongatapu tomorrow evening. This can only be confirmed tomorrow. However, he said sending a survey team to Vava’u is still an option.
In Vava’u last night, electricity was switched off at about 7:00pm for safety reason.
According to Hon. Sovaleni, Tonga Power Limited linesmen are working to restore electricity to consumers in Neiafu this afternoon.
No major damages were reported in Ha’apai. However the telecommunication mobile service was affected in some areas. Sovaleni reports that Tonga Communication
Corporation (TCC) is now restoring the communication service with the rest of Tonga as it is important for the islanders to keep in contact with their families after the cyclone.
Reports from Vava’u Disaster Committee say the powerful winds of TC Winston was more powerful than Tropical Ula that slammed onto Tonga earlier this year.
The Deputy PM also thanked the Digicel and TCC for providing free calls for town officers in providing updated reports to the public in the media on the cyclone.