During the night of Monday the 12 February 2018, the capital of Nuku’alofa in Tonga, was hit by Category 4 Tropical Cyclone Gita passing directly over the main island, with strong wind speeds of 230 km/hour and wind gusts of 278 km/hour devastating the country’s most populated island group. Tongatapu, which includes Tongatapu island (home of the capital), as well as ‘Eua island to the southeast, were battered by the worst cyclone to hit Tonga in 60 years. TC Gita had damaged parts of neighbour Samoa before entering Tonga, where its ongoing destructive effects include heavy rain, widespread flooding, risk of disease and mass displacement. Parliament House was totally destroyed by TC Gita. Debris, uprooted trees, and no electricity or fuel means many outlying areas and islands have not had contact made, or undergone preliminary rapid assessments. Although there have been no reported deaths, many communities remain unaccounted for at time of publication of this alert.
The cyclone has put the region in a state of crisis. The cyclone affected persons find themselves in a desperate situation, with many unmet vital humanitarian needs such as access to: mosquito nets to prevent further spread of dengue fever, an outbreak of which is currently being experienced in the capital. Primary needs include: sufficient food, safe shelter and basic non-food items, basic health services and facilities, safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure, livelihood activities, protection activities, and adequate nutrition. The ACT forum is now planning on submitting a funding proposal to provide the humanitarian response and assist the affected communities.