NIUE ANNIVERSARY BRINGS BACK CYCLONE’S HORROR

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ALOFI, Niue (Niue News, Jan. 6) – Memories of the horrific battering Niue received on the afternoon and evening of January 5, 2004 from super-cyclone Heta were re-kindled this week at the first anniversary of the disaster.

An Alofi North nurse was killed when the wall of her rented home collapsed on her and her 19 month-old son later died at Auckland’s Starship Hospital from injuries sustained during the disaster.

Aliluki residents, many still unwilling to discuss the horror, fled for their lives as 50-meter sea surges whipped up by hurricane-force winds swept across the western side of the island. The combination of waves and wind demolished the Lord Liverpool Hospital, government residences, the library, the cultural centre and museum, a nightclub and the Hotel Niue. Damage was estimated at N$Z30 million (US$20.9 million).

Heta caused havoc to Makefu, Tuapa, Namukulu and Hikutavake villages as the eye of the cyclone passed 35 kilometers west of Niue mid-afternoon. Concrete houses were smashed by rock and debris, roofs were blown off and a church was swept away.

Following the disaster there were allegations of looting although an independent New Zealand police investigation resulted in no prosecutions.

Niue has still not recovered from the battering. New homes are still being erected and efforts are underway to re build a hospital and a 24 unit industrial park for businesses demolished in the strongest natural forces every recorded in the Pacific.

Many residents who lost all their possessions and were forced to run for their lives from the monstrous waves that smashed a path of devastation 150 meters inland are still trying to cope with the trauma and aftermath of the cyclone.

New Zealand, France, Australia and China have contributed millions of dollars of aid to help Niue rebuild while the Niuean communities and relief organizations in New Zealand Australia sent containers of food and clothing. Many New Zealand resident Niueans returned to their homeland to assist with the clean up and repairs.

During this week TV Niue replayed documentaries compiled after the cyclone.

January 7, 2005

Niue News: http://www.niuenews.nu/

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