Fiji Time: 12:43 PM on Sunday 23 November

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High bill for damage

Felix Chaudhary
Tuesday, December 18, 2012

THE cost of damage to the country and the tourism industry caused by Tropical Cyclone Evan will be among the biggest Fiji has ever seen.

This is the view of hotelier Tony Whitton.

"This will be the likes of something we have never seen before or haven't seen in a long time," he said.

"Resorts in the Mamanuca and Yasawa groups of islands will be the hardest hit and the rehabilitation and reconstruction costs will be huge, not counting the cost to workers' families and their homes."

All resorts and tourism properties in the Yasawa and Mamanuca groups evacuated guests to the mainland over the weekend.

Only a few selected staff were on duty at the height of the hurricane.

All communications to the islands were cut off yesterday as the Western Division was battered by 110 to 180 kilometres an hour destructive force winds.

At 10am the Nadi weather office said Rakiraki and Yasawa-i-Rara experienced winds that had gusted to 180km an hour. By 4pm, the duty forecaster said wind speed in the region had topped at 60 to 90 knots or between 110 and 180km an hour.

There were reports from several communities of homes losing rooftops in Rakiraki, Lautoka and Nadi.

Speaking from his Denarau home, Mr Whitton said strong winds were uprooting plants and damaging roofs, causing damage in an area that had largely escaped the effects of natural disasters.

"Something of concern is the level of complacency in some areas where people have not sought to secure their homes despite the early and repeated warnings about the intensity of Evan," he said.

Mr Whitton lauded the efforts of the Fiji Meteorological Service and media in providing early warnings and suggestions on how to secure their homes.

"Thanks to advancements in technology, people received warnings well ahead of the cyclone's arrival in Fiji waters. However, it is of concern that some people did not take the warnings very seriously," he said.