The country stopped on Thursday as it prepared for the worst of Tropical Cyclone Evan.

All offices – public and private - were closed, schools shut, flights coming in and out of Apia and voyages to and from Salelologa were cancelled. All the events scheduled for yesterday and today have been called off.

By late afternoon yesterday, Apia was deserted as residents took cover from strong winds and heavy downpours, which accompanied the first of many cyclones predicted over the next few months.

According to reports, worst hit by wind of up to 50miles per hour was the south of Upolu, mostly Safata and Siumu.

Manono and Apolima suffered from rising tides and strong swells. There was damage to vegetation, especially banana patches, and faleo’o in Savai’i.  

Just before 2pm yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Chairman of the National Disaster Council, Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo made a “declaration of disaster” on the national radio 2AP.

In the declaration, Fonotoe said that based on reports at that time yesterday, there was no need for a formal proclamation of emergency.

He was mindful, however, that things could change.  

The declaration was issued after an emergency meeting of the National Disaster Council at the TuiAtua Building.

The meeting gathered members from the Ministry of Works, Health sector, Land and Transport Authority, Electric Power Corporation, Aviation and other utilities that are members of the committee. All Police officers and members of the Fire and Emergency Services Authority were called to their stations.  

Officials from the Samoa Red Cross, Ministry of Women Community and Social Development, MWTI, LTA, Ministry of Communication Information Technology (Radio 2AP) were also called to be on standby.

Workers from the Electric Power Corporation were mobilised to Siumu, Tiavi and other villages to ensure safety from electrical wires.

CEO of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Taule’ale’ausumai La’avasa Malua said everyone that needs to be involved were informed to be prepared to respondwhen needed.

He said the meeting briefed all organizations and other utilities and to advise the council.

“The council has also been alerted and Prime Minister is not in the country at the moment but the Deputy Prime Minister is acting on his behalf,” he said.  

“All offices are to be closed and our national emergency operating centre at Tuanaimato next to the Fire Service is opened.”

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