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Majority of businesses report structural, coastal damages

Tuesday 19 July 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in National, Weather


Majority of businesses report structural, coastal damages
Photo: STAN GORMAN/22071422

Businesses have rallied round in the wake of last week’s flooding as they prepare for another battering.

The king tides, which reached as high as 4.5 metres on the south side of Rarotonga, are expected to return on today, with some parts of the island likely to experience swells of close to five metres.

The effect on businesses of last week has been ongoing, with several accommodation providers reporting damage to rooms and general infrastructure.

Cook Islands Tourism Corporation chief executive Karla Eggelton said it sent an online survey to the Tourism Business Sector (TBS) across Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Atiu on Thursday.

The response rate has been 68 per cent as of Monday afternoon.

So far, 18 businesses have identified structural damage to their businesses, three businesses have identified capital damage, 55 businesses have identified coastal damage only and 30 businesses have identified no damage at all.

“Overall, Cook Islands Tourism initial assessment suggests few businesses received structural damage,” Eggelton said.  

“Of course, there a few who were severely affected, but generally coastal damage only was the single most reported damage to businesses. 

“National Environment Service has been working to get through the requests for remedial work to reinstate the foreshore and coastal areas where sand has been removed from the beach. Many businesses are doing their best but there are lots of requests for help with machinery and manpower to get beaches back to how they were.”

Eggelton said with the new warnings for high waters and waves in the coming days, it would look to complete a second round of surveys. It will use this information to assist Cook Islands Government in developing guidelines for support.

A spokesperson for Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI) said it had scoped out the damage to infrastructure assets across the affected areas and identified what needs to be done.

“Large volumes of sand and debris has been forced upstream, reducing operating capacity of the streams and has blocked culverts. This is a worry in case we get heavy rainfall – which will increase flooding.”

Infrastructure Cook Islands is planning to deposit sand to scoured areas.

“ICI is getting in touch with landowners to request permission to access sites to undertake remedial work,” the spokesperson said.

“ICI will be applying for permits from the Environment Service to undertake remedial works.”

The spokesperson said ICI remains on alert with the expected return of the high swells.