18 Feb 2010

Aitutaki mayor says some islanders could be homeless a long time

8:48 pm on 18 February 2010

The Mayor of Aitutaki in the Cook Islands say some of those made homeless by Cyclone Pat may be waiting a long time before they can leave their temporary accommodation.

About 90 percent of houses on Aitutaki sustained some damage in the cyclone, with about 50 homes needing to be rebuilt, and up to 60 percent needing to repair or replace rooves.

Tai Herman says about 15 percent of the island's inhabitants are now staying with family, or in cyclone centres or tents.

He says its unclear when they will be able to leave.

"The Red Cross they're establishing some tents to those who have completely lost their homes and tarpaulins that have been shared around the island to temporarily cover rooves. As to when will people return back to their own places, for some its going to be a long long time, and some we hope we can get them back in in the very near future."

Tai Herman says the Cook Islands is talking with the New Zealand government and the banks to see how the homeless can be helped.

He says power should be restored to 60 percent of homes by the end of the week, and all but one village now has water from the main supply.