The cane crop has sustained extensive damage in the North following almost three days of battering by hurricane force winds brought by Cyclone Tomas.
The slow moving Tomas which was upgraded to a Category Four hurricane on Monday with wind speeds averaging 80-90 km per hour and gusts of over 200 km per hour at its centre, is now well out of the Fiji group but has left behind severe damage to homes, buildings and crops in the Northern Division.
Worst hit have been eastern Vanua Levu including Savusavu, Taveuni, Cikobia, Koro and islands in the Lau Group which lay directly in the path of Tomas.
The real extent of damage and devastation is still not available as areas of Labasa, Taveuni, Cikobia and islands in the Lau Group are still out of communication.
But DISMAC reports that more than 70 homes have been destroyed and 17,000 people are in evacuation centres in the Northern and Eastern Divisions.
Reports from Labasa say there has been substantial wind damage to homes, a few have been completely destroyed by fallen trees. Damage from flood waters has been minimal in most areas.
About 70% of the cane crop in Labasa and surrounding areas has been severely damaged. Cane crop in the Penang area has also sustained major damage, according to NFU officials in Ra.
This raises concerns about an extremely poor 2010 cane season as the crop had already been severely affected by a prolonged drought in the northern and western divisions. Hopes that Cyclone Tomas would bring enough rainfall to ease the drought in the West were dashed as the division received hardly any rain from the system.