The National Emergency Organisation Committee is working with Government agencies to provide assistance and relief to residents affected badly by Cyclone Gita which lashed the country yesterday.
The Spokesperson for the Disaster Management Organisation (D.M.O.), Lepale Aussie, said it was early days yet but they are determined to help as many people as possible quickly.
“We are now in what we call the ‘relief and response’ mode, providing relief for families for the affected people. We are responding to requests for assistance,” Lepale said.
“Right now we are just in the early stages and we are still conducting assessments and hopefully we will have a clearer picture of the extent of the damage and what we can assist and/or provide in the next 24 hours.
“As of now, we are still waiting for news to come in, especially from Savai’i and the south coast. We’ve requested from our agencies over there such as the Fire Emergency Services Authority (F.E.S.A.).”
A lot of their work has been around evacuating people, water, roads, electricity and safety.
“F.E.S.A is working with the evacuations assisting with the affected people as well as the Ministry of Police,” he said
“The L.T.A. are clearing roads. The Electric Power Corporation is trying to get the power supply back up. They did mention this morning that they will try and have the power supply in the main essential services like the hospitals.”
Lepale also cautioned that people need to be careful with their water supply.
“The Samoa Water Authority (S.W.A.) has also advised the villages that their supply had to be cut off because of the content and quality of the water was not good. It will be up to the S.W.A. when they will get back to being operational and the water supply will be back on.
“But you can obtain that information from S.W.A. because I said previously we are still trying to get the information and evaluation assessments of the damage so far and the updates from our agencies so that we can provide comprehensive reports.
“The recommendations are to buy bottled water for now.
“Right now all our agencies are doing their best to get their services back up and running. We just have to ask for your patience as we try to do that.
“As far as the water goes, we can only advise to boil water especially during times of disaster and to buy water if they can.”
Lepale says the good news is that Samoa narrowly missed a Category 2 Cyclone and it looks like “we are in the clear.”
Still, people must remain vigilant.
“It is definitely a Category One, if you assess the damage; there were uprooted trees but no major infrastructure damages.
“Fortunately for us, as it was developing into a Category 2, it was heading away from us.
“The MET office is still managing their system as of now. What we can confirm from the latest bulletin is that it is moving eastwards and further away from the islands but they are still monitoring in case it does a U-turn or something.
“But while that happens we are still having conversions which are causing this random scattered rainfall and winds.”
Toai Bartley Lee, who is a part of the Disaster Advisory Committee, was working with a team made of government and non-government individuals during the emergency phase to co-ordinate assistance to affected peoples and their areas.
“This is our incidents area,” she points to a list of vulnerable areas on the whiteboard. “As of yesterday, we are just clearing of the debris, we refer it to the relevant agencies, the L.T.A, S.W.A. and then we follow up to see if the help has gone.
“The evacuation areas are N.U.S, A.D.R.A, and L.D.S. Currently the only evacuation center that we are looking after is N.U.S.
“A.D.R.A is looking after themselves. We also have some residents and families that are housing the evacuees.”