3 Mar 2005

Cooks schols closed as cyclone Percy moves south

3:06 pm on 3 March 2005

The Cook Islands Chief hurricane officer, Pira Wichman, has ordered schools and public offices to remain closed today as the Southern group prepares for cyclone Percy.

Mr Wichman ordered the closure during the daily briefing for heads of ministries yesterday afternoon.

Palmerston Island has been experiencing destructive storm force winds from Cyclone Percy from this morning.

Paul Bruce, a forecaster at New Zealand's Met service, says the cyclone is now west of the island.

Rarotonga is expected to start feeling the effects of Cyclone Percy over the next 24 hours.

Fine weather in the past day has allowed people on Pukapuka and Nassau to begin cleaning up after the cyclone.

There are no reported injuries or casualties from Percy which left 640 people on Pukapuka and Nassau with only rudimentary shelter.

A boat filled with emergency supplies is headed for these northern islands and could arrive late tomorrow.

But Chief Inspector Teroi John Tini of the Emergency Operations Centre says as well as extensive damage to buildings, there's been swamping of crops, especially the taro which grows in abundance on Pukapuka.

"It's unfortunate their planting area has been swamped by seawater, and if they haven't done so already, by now they will be out there diving to recover the shoots for replanting when this thing is all over.'"

Chief Inspector Teroi John Tini