REUNION RECOVERING FROM MONSTER STORM BEJISA
(Posted 07th January 2014)
Cyclone Bejisa, which lashed the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion first thing in the New Year, has left a trail of destruction and claimed at least one life while causing over a dozen people to be injured, some of them seriously.
The island is now recovering steadily from the aftermath of the storm, which while thankfully not hitting the island directly – the eye of the storm passed some 20 kilometres off Reunion – still brought gale force winds up to 150 kilometres per hour. It was those winds which made trees collapse, caused roofs to be torn off, prompt electricity and water supplies to go down, leaving over 170.000 households without electricity and about 200.000 households with periodic water shortages, according to details received from the island. Services have since January 03rd been progressively restored however.
Flights, which were suspended in the run up to the storm, have since of course resumed too with Air Austral flying a full schedule again. There are no reports from Reunion’s tourism resorts of much damage other than torn off tree branches and flower beds in need of some tender loving care by the gardeners, allowing the resumption of unrestricted operations of tourism businesses across the country. Some yachts and boats used for diving, sailing, fishing and watching whales and dolphins were reportedly damaged in port as a result of high tides and strong waves though the source in St. Denis could not confirm if any total write offs were incurred.
Some of the low laying parts of the island suffered minor flooding damage while some roads along the coastline were also damaged, as were some in the interior where torrential rains caused rivers to break their banks before eventually returning to manageable levels. Damage to agricultural farms with sugar cane and vanilla suffered damages too but cannot be quantified at present while a full survey of the storm impact on crops, through rain, flooding and wind damage, is still ongoing. The French central government has been asked to declare at least some parts of Reunion as a disaster area to allow for immediate financial help from Paris and compensation for the storm damage to those affected. Damage to infrastructure, agriculture and private property could run into tens of millions of Euros according to information received by yesterday end of business, all the more important that disaster funding is released rapidly to Reunion to start repairs and provide the funds to do so.
Cyclone Bejisa was described as one of the worst storms in the recent history of Reunion for at least the last two decades. Other Indian Ocean islands like Madagascar, Rodrigues and Mauritius and parts of the Seychelles outer islands were also affected by torrential rains and high wind speeds.