For displaced Pacific islanders, a temporary bridge is a greenway

By Sarah Courtney, CNN • Updated 9th July 2020 After the recent flash floods that damaged Highway 16 and dumped up to 20 inches of water on the nearest village in Solomon Islands ,…

For displaced Pacific islanders, a temporary bridge is a greenway

By Sarah Courtney, CNN • Updated 9th July 2020

After the recent flash floods that damaged Highway 16 and dumped up to 20 inches of water on the nearest village in Solomon Islands , a plan was announced to rebuild a bridge — albeit in a way that was both small and sustainable.

The islands — located off the west coast of Papua New Guinea — were once a thriving village known as the megalopolis of Pala.

Around 10,000 people lived in the community — roughly the size of Wellington, New Zealand. But the village’s recently-closed $12 million new bridge was completely submerged under the water in the floods that hit this month .

Livestock farmer Douglas Ngaurini holds his starving oxen in the aftermath of a waterlogged bridge in Solomon Islands. Credit: Carla Gottgens/CNN

Three months after the flooding, workers were trying to remove uprooted trees so the bridge could be rebuilt.

The Papua New Guinea newspaper, the West Papua Post Courier , reports that the bridge will have a street and shops in it. That’s small, but in keeping with the goal of the project, said residents said.

The landscape around the bridge shows how the village would look before the flooding hit. Credit: Carla Gottgens/CNN

“What you will see is a very small bridge, one we could actually use,” said Glen Manuel of the Solomon Islands’ National Building Office. “We just went around and consulted people, and now we have a plan, and the process has started.”

The new bridge will be a temporary solution, said Joseph Taunu, the chairman of Solomon Islands’ flood relief coordination center.

“But before then we are going to set up a new place (that) can accommodate our community with the new plan in mind,” he said.

Workers prepare to install temporary power pylons near a damaged bridge. Credit: Carla Gottgens/CNN

It’s unclear when the new bridge will be completed.

“We’ll get the work done as fast as possible,” Taunu said. “It could take a little bit of time but in the end it’s just about getting the people back on their feet.”

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