16th February 2016 Government has activated the National Emergency Coordination Centre in preparedness for Cyclone Winston.
This followed the activation of the Fua’amotu Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre at 4pm on Monday, February 15.
The Chairman of the National Emergency Management Committee (NEMC) and Deputy Prime Minister Hon Siaosi Sovaleni confirmed the activation of the NEMC starting from 11.30pm on Monday.
The NEMC met for the first time at 9am this morning at the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) here in Nuku’alofa and received a briefing from the Director of Meteorology, Mr Ofa Fa’anunu.
In his briefing Mr Fa’anunu told the NEMC that Cyclone Winston, which is a category 2 at the moment, poses a direct threat to Ha’apai and Vava’u.
He added that there is a likelihood that the cyclone could turn around after passing Vava’u and head back towards Tongatapu and ‘Eua. Hon Sovaleni said the NEMC has been activated so that all stakeholders can start preparing for the unexpected.
He added that this is also the second meeting in response to tackling the Zika virus where the first meeting has initiated the country’s cleaning-up campaign.
He said the NEMC will be asking Cabinet for the approval of start-up funding from the Emergency Fund to support the initial response in case there is a need for that from both Ha’apai and Vava’u.
This fund will also include continuing response to the Zika virus.
Government Ministries and other Agencies who are working together within NEMC includes the Prime Minister’s Office; Ministry of Internal Affairs; Ministry of Health; Ministry of Finance and National Planning; Ministry of Infrastructure; Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Forestry; Ministry of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources; Ministry of Education and Training; Tonga Police Force; His Majesty’s Armed Forces, and Tonga Red Cross, and also the Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management (NEMO), Environment, Climate Change and Communications (or MEIDECC) who coordinates the work of NEMC.
Both Tonga Telecommunication Corporation (TCC) and Digicel (Tonga) Ltd form an integral part of the NEMC and are providing support through their mobile and telecommunication networks.
The NEMC will be tracking and monitoring the cyclone’s movement throughout the day before another meeting and briefing at 5pm this afternoon.
The committee will advise the Prime Minister if there is a need to declare a state of emergency, if that is warranted.