Aerial assessment

One of the photos taken during the TC Hola aerial surveillance on NW, N, NE, E, SE, S and South West Bay Malekula. (Photo: Department blog Agriculture Vanuatu/FB)

Disaster authorities say cyclone Hola caused widespread damage on most islands in the central parts of the country.

Last week, the cyclone passed over Vanuatu as a category two strengthening to a category three with destructive winds over 150 kilometres an hour.

The operations manager of Vanuatu’s Disaster Management Office, Peter Korisa, said an aerial survey of the affected areas was conducted on Sunday.

It found Hola caused major damage to food gardens, houses and public infrastructure.

Mr Korisa said the damage to gardens was particularly concerning.

“Most people in Vanuatu they are small farmers, subsistence farming so they depend on small plots of gardening as the means of their livelihood. So we have flown to several islands they have noticed that most of their gardening has been damaged.”

Peter Korisa said his office had yet to confirm reports that one person was killed during the cyclone and several others seriously injured.

The NDMO director said food, water and shelter were the priorities for the relief effort going forwards.

Vanuatu’s Department of Agriculture elaborated on the TC Hola aerial surveillance on its Facebook page.

General observations were outlined as follows:

• severe crop damage to old coconut trees, mature banana, yam vines, cassava, island cabbage, sweet corn, kava, cocoa, and fruit trees,

• high waterlogged soil in some areas may cause root rot and damages to tuber crops — cassava, sweet kumala, taro and yam; and

• likelihood of pest and disease incidence.

The department advocated for the following immediate actions:

• replanting of healthy, quality planting materials which weren’t damaged by strong wind, salt spray, or flooding,

• harvest cassava, yam, banana, kumala, corn that were partly damaged and store in a safe dry place,

•prune kava stalks and damaged branches of cocoa and fruit trees,

•stake fallen yam vines; and

•mobilize communities to supply local food and planting materials from unaffected areas to affected areas.

In summary, the department concluded that the most affected areas are North West, North, North East and East Malekula; South and South West Malo.


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