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As Evan departs, the clean up begins in Samoa, Fiji

Wednesday 19 Dec 2012 7:15 a.m.

See the photo gallery

By 3 News online staff / RadioLIVE / AP

More than 7000 people are in evacuation centres in Samoa and many could remain there well into the new year.

Cyclone Evan has wreaked havoc in both Samoa and Fiji, where roads are closed, power and water supplies are cut and there is extensive damage to bridges, houses and community halls.

In Apia, Oxfam's Andy Thomson is assessing people's most urgent needs - up to 40 people can be crammed into one classroom, having lost everything.

"They are relying on food from the disaster management office, Red Cross are doing a lot of good work there as well, and churches are providing support as well,” he says.

“It's pretty tough, very harrowing, everyone's got a story."

Mr Thomson is urging people to donate to Oxfam and other organisations helping with the long-term recovery of both countries.

The New Zealand Government has announced it is providing a further $2 million dollars each to Samoa and Fiji to help their recovery.

The money will be administered by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and is in addition to the $600,000 already provided to Samoa and $400,000 to Fiji.

The defence force’s P3 Orion that had been carrying out aerial assessment work in Samoa has been moved to Fiji for similar purposes.

TOURISTS ARRIVE HOME

New Zealanders arriving home from Fiji are describing devastating scenes in the aftermath of the cyclone.

The storm ploughed down the Pacific nation's west coast yesterday, forcing thousands into evacuation centres as 200km/h winds ripped through houses and infrastructure.

"We had a supply of water, but the rest of Nadi was definitely without water, and power was very minimal," one tourist told RadioLIVE.

"When it got to its full force, it was pretty strong. We couldn't even go out on the balcony and one of our hotel roofs like, fell in."

One local resident said he was lucky not to have been killed by a falling tree which landed on the roof of his home.

"The front doors came off and then we were trying to hold the main doors in and we just heard the tree just fall and it just missed us. Luckily we were, we were just out of range of the tree," he said.

Strong seas near the capital, Suva, pulled two container ships onto a reef. Authorities say they hope to refloat them.

Overall, Fiji appears to have come through the storm relatively intact, with some places yet to be assessed. There are no reports of deaths, the international airport at Nadi reopened Tuesday and most tourist resorts sustained only minor damage.

"Yes, we're trying to get out of here," said one Australian tourist, waiting in her hotel lobby. "Our flight has been cancelled, so. We were on one of the smaller islands and we only got evacuated the night before so, we were pretty lucky to get to the mainland," she added.

Power and communications remain down in parts of the country.

Evan is still a category three storm, but is weakening slowly as it drifts southwest at about 12km/h. It's now around 1700km northeast of Auckland, and 450km south of Fiji.

The cyclone is being steered by 140km/h southwesterly winds at very high altitudes. At this stage it's not clear just how close it will get to New Zealand.

3 News / RadioLIVE / AP

 

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