As the country braces for Tropical Cyclone Amos, there are only a few things we can do. We must be prepared, we have to be alert, listen to updates from the weather office on the radio, stay calm and pray.
We say this because from our experience with recent cyclones, there is not much else we can do. Nobody wants a cyclone – or any natural disaster for that matter. Without a doubt, it is the last thing we need.
But then these things are not determined by us and what we want.
They happen when we least expect them to and at their harshest, they destroy and kill indiscriminately. They don’t care. Which is why we must do the best we can to be prepared for the fact that Cyclone Amos is gathering momentum as it is drawing closer to our shores.
When this piece was being compiled yesterday evening, the Samoa Meteorology Office had already issued its third special weather bulletin warning about a tropical cyclone for the next 36 hours.
That could mean anything from this afternoon until tomorrow.
For today, there will be periods of heavy rain and thunderstorms. We should also expect Northeast to Northwest winds of 45-55 mph and possibly increase up to 65 mph at times.
People living in coastal areas can expect storm surges of 13-15 feet and developing for northern waters and 15-18 feet and developing for Southern waters. Seas are predicted to be very rough.
Elsewhere, members of the public have been warned about river overflows, slippery roads, poor visibility, flooding, landslides and flying objects.
From what we’ve been told, Cyclone Amos is likely to develop into a Category 3 Cyclone by tomorrow and that could be quite serious for some parts of the country.
As of its forecast yesterday, it is likely pass some 100 to 150 km south of Savai’i then Upolu during the latter half of tomorrow as a category 3 cyclone.
While it is above Samoa, winds are expected to come initially from the northwest, strengthening over the course of tonight and peaking tomorrow.
The good news is that - if yesterday’s prediction is accurate – the cyclone will move quite quickly and “prolonged heavy rain over several days such as seen during TC Evan is unlikely.” By Monday, the cyclone is expected to be heading between Niue and the Cook Islands.
So what do we do?
Well the first thing is not to panic. We must remain calm and be rational in our decision making as we prepare our homes and families.
Our Disaster Management Office, Disaster Advisory Committee and the Samoa Meteorology Office would have been issuing public notices about what we all need to do. With the help of all emergency workers, they would have been on the alert since the news came through on Thursday.
And in the case, you are not sure what do before, during and after a cyclone, we are bringing you the following tips to help protect yourselves, families and your properties.
WHEN A CYCLONE WARNING IS ISSUED
• Re-check your house for any loose material and tie down
• Check your emergency kit and fill water containers
• Ensure you know where the strongest part of the building is
• Park vehicles under solid shelter (hand brake on and in gear)
• Close shutters or board-up or heavily tape all windows. Draw curtains and lock doors
• Pack an evacuation kit of warm clothes, essential medications, valuables and important papers (as well as your emergency kit)
• Trim treetops and branches well clear of any structures
• Preferably fit shutters/metal screens to all glass areas
• Clear the property of loose material that could blow about and possibly cause injury or damage
WHEN THE CYCLONE STRIKES
• Listen to updates on the radio, stay inside, stay calm.
• Disconnect all electrical appliances.
• Stay inside and shelter (well clear of windows) in the strongest part of the building, i.e. cellar, internal hallway or bathroom. Keep evacuation and emergency kits with you
• If the building starts to break up, protect yourself with mattresses, rugs or blankets under a strong table or bench or hold onto a solid fixture, e.g. a water pipe
• Beware the calm ‘eye’. If the wind drops, don’t assume the cyclone is over; violent winds will soon resume from another direction. Wait for the official ‘all clear’
• Don’t go outside until officially advised it is safe
• Check for gas leaks. Don’t use electrical appliances if wet
• If you have to evacuate, or did so earlier, don’t return until advised. Use a recommended route and don’t rush
• Beware of damaged power lines, bridges, buildings, trees, and don’t enter floodwaters
• Heed all warnings and don’t go sightseeing
• Don’t make unnecessary telephone calls
WHAT YOU NEED IN AN EMERGENCY KIT
• Portable battery radio
• Torch and spare batteries
• Water containers, dried or canned food & can opener
• Matches, fuel lamp, portable stove, cooking and eating equipment
• First aid kit and manual
• Tape & waterproof bags
• Store somewhere safe and handy
Stay safe Samoa and God help us!