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Milne Bay hit by landslides two weeks ago

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 1, 2009) – Mainland Milne Bay people are struggling to cope with the flooding devastation as landslides have cut their main road link and wrecked food gardens and cash crops.

It is estimated 4,000 people are badly affected by flooding.

The Government last Friday responded by releasing K350, 000 [US$136, 000] through the National Disaster Office for relief supplies and to restore infrastructure.

The flooding caused 28 landslides and the most affected areas were between Alotau and Awaiama where 22 landslips from the 28 were recorded and the five washouts of roads including the North Coast Highway.

The highway links Alotau, Awaiama and Maramatana Local Level Governments.

Provincial Works estimated about K362,740 was required to fix the highway in six to eight months.

"A total of four houses were washed away and two church buildings along Alotau – East Cape road and North Coast were partially damaged," Provincial Disaster Committee chairman Henry Bailasi said.

Floods had washed away food gardens and were having a great impact on economy because vanilla and coffee plantations were destroyed.

Mr. Bailasi said Milne Bay Works Coordinating Unit had begun mobilising resources to start clearing of the mud and debris along the highway and landslips.

Culture and Tourism Minister and Alotau Open MP Charles Abel said K250, 000 [US$97, 000] was for relief supplies and K100,000 [US$39, 000] to clear up the mud and debris along the highway. He said K50,000 should be used to help with the people on Misima Island whose area was also affected.

Betty Tomile is a 53-year-old mother from Huhuna village in the Milne Bay Province.

Betty used to get up every morning before 6am, say her morning prayers and walk out of her house to find nature at peace.

Two Sundays ago, on June 21 to be exact, nature was not at peace, it was as if it was angry, for it was raining heavily. She knew the rain brought blessings because the soil and debris deposited by the swelling waters would fertilise the soil.

"The floods were as high as two to three metres and rushing at us. All domestic "We are struggling to survive on what we can manage to find, our gardens are all covered by mud slips or washed away by the floods and even our cash crops…there is nothing left that can take us through the next six months," Mrs. Tomile said.

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

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