27 Jan 2011

Food shortages looming in Tonga region worst hit by Cyclone Wilma

7:34 pm on 27 January 2011

A disaster official in Tonga says there are food security concerns in the Ha'apai Island group after Cyclone Wilma devastated crops.

Damage assessments are continuing after the storm swept through Tonga on Tuesday and directly hit the low lying islands.

Many cash crops, such as taro, breadfruit, and bananas were severely damaged by storm surges and strong winds.

The acting director of Tonga's Ministry of Works and Disaster Relief, Leveni 'Aho, says the people there are mostly self sufficient, but it's estimated there's not much local food left.

"These islands are so vulnerable. What's not been damaged by the wind theres also sea sprays. Right now, [its] breadfruit season, so a lot of that, probably 95-percent of that, is down. And other fruit trees as well. So the remaining root crops would probably last the people in the islands there about two to three weeks from now. And after that they'll be looking for some support in terms of food security."

Leveni 'Aho says Tonga Power is still working around the clock to restore power.

He says unless people have generator back up systems, perishable foods will be ruined.