Marian Tukuafu couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the damage a huge tsunami wreaked on her once-pristine beachfront resort on Tonga’s main island.
“It’s like a bomb hit this place, it’s like a war zone,” Tukuafu told Pacific Beat.
She managed to evacuate Vakaloa Beach Resort on the western coast of Tongatapu moments before the tsunami hit on 15 January.
While she counts herself lucky be alive, Tukuafu estimates the cost to rebuild her business will be in the millions.
“Everything is a write off … there’s nothing there,” she said.
Resorts and homes all along the coastline were destroyed, taking with them people’s livelihoods.
Tukuafu said she was sad that many locals had lost employment due to the disaster.
The World Bank is working with local authorities to assess the economic impact caused by the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption.
Lowy Institute Pacific Islands Program director Jonathan Pryke said while it was still too early to tell the exact financial toll from the incident, past natural disasters could give a sense of what to expect.
“By comparison, cyclones in the region have been known to shave off up to 5% of the country’s GDP if they’re really badly struck,” Pryke said.
“Tonga and other Pacific nations are incredibly exposed to the economic shock of natural disasters.”
Pryke said Tonga’s economy had already been stagnating with the impact of COVID-19 border closures.
The World Bank has committed US$8 million in emergency relief and Australia has also promised an initial $1 million (US$711,000) to Tonga, with expectations of more funding to follow.
SOURCE: ABC/ PACNEWS