The Disaster: For more than two weeks in April, Cyclone Ita swirled through the Coral Sea, visiting destruction across Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and New Zealand, with high winds and heavy rainfall. The Category 5 storm first hit the Solomon Islands, bringing substantial damage across the country as rivers broke their banks and flooded numerous towns where illegal housing had been built in flood plains; the island of Guadalcanal was worst hit. After lashing Papua, Ita made landfall in the Queensland region of Australia, doing minimal damage to the infrastructure but wiping out large sectors of agriculture at an estimated cost of 900 million dollars. The storm dropped up to 24 inches of rain in areas and brought sustained winds of 105 miles per hour. While the scientific community digs into data to determine if global warming is to blame for the recent rash of powerful storms throughout the Pacific basin, answers are still hard to come by. This could just be a trend; more research is needed.
State of Recovery: Queensland suffered another blow when in late November the largest super cell storm seen in decades battered the province. Agriculture damages in the area are rebounding and expected to be fully replaced within two years. In the Solomon Islands all relocation centers have closed and basic infrastructure repaired. An estimated 20 to 30 percent of the population is still displaced while rebuilding continues.
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