5 Mar 2014

Power now restored to cyclone-hit Ha'apai in Tonga

3:15 pm on 5 March 2014

Power has now been restored to all properties not destroyed in the cyclone-hit islands of Ha'apai in Tonga.

Almost two months ago, the category-five storm killed one person and injured 14 others, displaced 4,000 people, flattened food crops and destroyed infrastructure.

The chief executive of Tonga Power, John van Brink, says 400 out of the 1,000 properties on its grid have not been re-connected as the houses were completely destroyed.

But he says it has done all it can in immediately restoring supply as of this week, and the next stage is to build a more storm-resilient network.

"About 90 percent of our network was flattened through the cyclone, it was quite severe. We looked at the possibility of being able to rebuild the network with a different design standard, better conductors, putting in cables. But in the interest of time and getting supply back, we had to make a compromise, and we're now looking at seeing if we can actually get the next stage of development done and upgrade the rest of the network."

John van Brink says rebuilding a more resilient Ha'apai network will cost 3.7 million US dollars.