NZ Army Engineers in Aitutaki, Cook Islands following damage from Cyclone Pat. (MC-10-0037-033tn)
18 February 2010
The New Zealand Defence Force’s 'Operation Cook Islands Assist' is beginning its third day of helping the local population of Aitutaki clean up the damage from Cyclone Pat, which swept over the island last weekend.
Aid has arrived at a crucial time and supplies of fresh water, food and temporary shelters are providing relief for the people of the island.
Defence Force personnel are working alongside local people to help restore essential services and some sense of normality after the devastating damage of Cyclone Pat.
“A C-130 aircraft from No 40 Sqn has been ferrying supplies from the main island of Rarotonga to Aitutaki. It successfully completed four flights delivering a range of aid including a water purification plant from Australia capable of delivering 5000 litres of water per hour, temporary shelters, electrical cabling, water containers, heavy plant including two bobcat diggers, blankets and food stuffs. People on the island have been very welcoming and appreciate New Zealand’s help,” says the Senior National Officer for Op CI ASSIST Squadron Leader Kavae Tamariki.
As well as using air assets, a New Zealand Army Engineering team of 12 personnel from Linton Camp have been working with the Emergency Operations Co-ordination Center. The Engineer team includes electricians, a builder, heavy plant operators and a plumber, providing a wide range of skills. Their tasks will initially focus on the provision of temporary shelters for those families who have lost their homes, in addition to restoring electricity and the main water supply damaged during the cyclone.
“The reception we received when we flew into Aitutaki has been fantastic. It was surprising when you consider the amount of damage and destruction caused by the cyclone. There is a lot of work to do restore essential services before they begin the rebuilding process but the work has begun. We hope to make a positive impact while we are here,” says Squadron Leader Tamariki.
For more information please contact Squadron Leader Kavae Tamariki on 021 420 899