Tropical Cyclone Gita made landfall in Tonga on 12 February, causing severe damage to the main island of Tongatapu. The cyclone damaged or destroyed almost 2,000 homes, caused the evacuation of over 4,500 people and left more than 80% of homes in Tonga without power.
Australia's humanitarian assistance
Australia is providing a comprehensive package of support to Tonga that includes addressing immediate needs, helping people return to their homes, reconnecting power throughout Tongatapu, and providing support to the island of 'Eua, which was also badly affected by the cyclone.
Australia will support longer-term efforts by the government of Tonga to re-establish schooling, rebuild water supplies and support farmers to recover.
- Life-saving supplies including tarpaulins and emergency shelter kits to assist over 10,000 people in need.
- Five large electricity generators, which will provide power to up to 1,000 households.
Supporting local efforts
- Financial assistance to local and Australian NGOs including the Tonga Red Cross, and the Tongan Women and Children's Crisis Centre, which are delivering urgent assistance to affected communities.
- Cash distributions to elderly pensioners and people with disabilities in the week of 5 to 9 March with Australian funded assistance delivering support to many vulnerable people, less than four weeks after the cyclone.
Australian deployments to Tonga
- An Australian medical expert who helped conduct an assessment of medical needs immediately after the cyclone.
- Disaster Assistance Response Team personnel who assessed the cyclone's impact on key infrastructure including schools, community halls and medical centres.
- Electrical line technicians who are restoring electricity to communities.
- Australian Government crisis specialists who are working alongside the Government of Tonga and International partners to coordinate recovery efforts.
Infographic: Australia's response to Tropical Cyclone Gita in Tonga
Additionally, Australia provided $155,000 to support Samoa, which was also hit by Cyclone Gita. This funded debris clearance, aerial surveillance, food assistance, and the deployment of a structural engineer to assist with damage assessments.
Reconnecting power to Tonga
The Australian Government has collaborated with Australian energy companies to deploy specialists to reconnect power following a disaster in the Pacific.
More than 20 technicians from NJ Construction, Essential Energy, TransGrid, and Evoenergy will work for a month in Tonga, to restore power to homes, reinstate health and education services, and enable businesses to resume operations. They have installed large generators provided by Australia in remote communities, providing about 1,000 households with power.
If you would like to contribute to Australia's response to Cyclone Gita please consider donating to an agency working with affected communities. Often the most effective ways to support the relief effort in countries affected by disasters is by providing cash donations through organisations responding to the crisis.
Humanitarian agencies with appeals in response to Cyclone Gita:
The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) has additional information including a list of accredited non-government organisations and detailed information about public donations.
Travel advice and consular assistance
We have returned our travel advice level for Tonga to 'exercise normal safety precautions'. A severe tropical cyclone hit Tonga on Monday 12 February. The cyclone caused extensive damage to buildings and other infrastructure. The Tongan government has declared a state of emergency. If you are in Tonga, follow instructions of local authorities.
For the latest updates on Cyclone Gita, please refer to www.smartraveller.gov.au. You can also subscribe to receive updated travel advisories for Tonga, Samoa and New Caledonia.
For travel advice updates, follow @Smartraveller on Twitter.
Follow @AusHumanitarian on Twitter or the Australia High Commission in Tonga on Facebook for more information about Australia's humanitarian response.