Tropical Cyclone Namu hit the Solomon Islands in May 1986. Namu whose name means the "big mosquito"
first struck Sikaina- a coral atoll.
The Solomon Islanders were not thinking about hurricanes in May 1986. They arent in the main cyclone
belt in the south-west pacific. But in an area where hurricanes rarely hit the impossible happpened. May 16 a tropical storm
turned into a small but very powerfull hurricane.
Winds up to 185 km/h casued torrential rain and a pounding storm with waves that devasted the landscape.
Massive mudslides rolled off the mountains and thousands of trees were up-rooted and swept into massive log jams.
Over 130 people were killed as Namu swept across the Solomons. Most people were victims of the landslides
and floods. some villages were completely wiped out. 43 people used to live in the Guadalcanal settlement of Valebaibai. Only
five escaped the killer hurricane. Many people had narrow escapes... A New Zealand school teacher had to swim for her life
after flood waters near her school rose two metres in five minutes.
There was a devastation to land, houses and crops. In some muddy areas, hardly a house was left.
Mudslides and logs destroyed roads, bridges, water pipes and drainage systems. Crops were destroyed such as cocoa, copra,
coffee, oil palms and rice causing thousands and thousands of dollars worth of damage. An inter- islands ship was tossed on
Picking up the pieces: Before outside help arrrived the Solomon Islanders were helping themselves
by patching up many water pipes with bamboo, string and rubber strips. New Zealand was the first country to fly in supplies,
equipment and exports. The clean up period was a long process. A year later it was reported that bulldozers were still removing
broken logs and workmen were still repairing roads.
NAMU- THE COST...
- Over 130 people were killed
- 90 000 people lost their homes -( one third of the population)
- Property and infrastructure damage of over $25 million.
- Development may have set back 10 years.