Afega village devastation caused by king tides

The Samoa Meteorology Office is yet to run outreach awareness programs to alert coastal families to the dangers of king tides.

Meteorology Office Acting Chief Executive Officer, Tile Tofaeono, said the office has ongoing awareness programs to educate people in terms of natural disaster preparedness.

But he said the people should be made aware of the shift in high and low tides and the characteristics of king tides. 

“Yes we have outreach programs into the villages to warn them about the tropical cyclones, tropical depressions and also King Tides which is not usually too emphasized but advise is given always,” he said.

“But we are expecting to educate our villages more on the schedules of the high and low tides and when to expect king tides to hit so they can be prepared.”

Mr. Tofaeono said they partner up with Disaster Management Office, Samoa Red Cross Society and Adventist Disaster Relief Agency to carry out awareness programs into the village.

“We also take our awareness programs out to schools, in primary schools also, to plant a seed so that these children will grow up knowing about these natural processes in the weather,” he added. 

This was confirmed by Amituana’i Simanu, who said the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) – through Disaster Management Office (DMO) and Meteorology Office (MET) – have ongoing campaigns through all available media.

“These campaigns are a collaborative effort by our Government and Developing Partners to ensure that the public are aware of these natural hazards and their impacts.”

“Not only that we have Community Disaster Climate Risk Management campaigns that are ongoing and have covered more than 67 coastal communities and 20 schools so far,” he said.

Amituana’i said the goal is to make Samoan communities more resilient to climate change, to ensure the public is prepared and able to respond and recover quickly.

Mr. Tofaeono also confirmed that devastation triggered by the sudden rise in sea levels – which affected Afega families – was caused by king tides, coupled with northerly swells.

“It was the highest tide for the month and it would have been a normal high tide as always during a full moon. But it was coupled with northerly swells from high pressure systems from the far north,” he said.

“Because it’s a natural process but this time of the year it’s too bad it’s coupled with northerly swells, affecting all of the northern side of Samoa.”

 “If you see Mulinu’u, Solosolo, Moataa, going onto Luatuanu’u and other low lying coastal villages, it’s a normal occurrence to see the spring tides come in,” he added. 

Amituana’i added that the DMO and MET have discussed and agreed on ways to re-examine and improve on its processes for monitoring and dissemination of information for future cases as such.

“The recent event was unprecedented, and unfortunate that all elements came together to create uncomfortable situations for the coastal community.”

“We encourage the public to take notice of the weather bulletins on TV, MET App and MET website for updated weather and climate information,” he concluded.

King Tides occur every 14 days of each month and the next one is forecast to reoccur on the same day next month – Wednesday March 20 at 5:54pm.

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