SUVA, 13 February 2018 – As Tropical Cyclone Gita intensifies, the strongest storm to ever hit Tonga, and heads towards Fiji, UNICEF offers its support to the affected Pacific island countries of Samoa, Tonga and Fiji.
“UNICEF is ready to support the Governments of Tonga and Samoa respond to the emergencies caused by Tropical Cyclone Gita. We are also on standby to provide support to the Government of Fiji as they brace for Cyclone Gita,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Pacific Representative.
RT HON WINSTON PETERS
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says New Zealand will contribute a further $1.5 million to help with the emergency response and early recovery efforts in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Gita.
“This additional funding will be directed to Tonga, Samoa and Fiji which have all felt the impact of the cyclone,” said Mr Peters.
“A picture of the extent of damage caused by Cyclone Gita is emerging and it is clear a big response and clean-up job lies ahead. We are here to help our neighbours get through this,” he said.
Australia and New Zealand have flown emergency aid supplies to Tonga where the clean-up from Cyclone Gita has begun, and as the category-four storm intensifies and heads west towards nearby Fiji.
The Australian Government said it was sending $350,000 worth of emergency supplies to Tonga immediately.
The Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, told ABC Radio Australia's Pacific Beat Program the Royal Australian Air Force was flying the aid to Tonga on Tuesday night.
Severe Tropical Cyclone (TC) Gita hit Tonga on the night of 12 February as a Category 4 system, and is the strongest storm Tonga has ever been struck by.
In Tonga, emergency authorities estimate approximately 70 per cent of the population have been impacted.
UNICEF-led Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT) clusters have been convened in Suva and UNICEF has, together with other PHT partners, produced an inventory of supplies and personnel available for use in the response to TC Gita.
Tropical Cyclone GITA passed near the islands of Eua (population 4 900) and Tongatapu (population 74 600) on 12 February morning UTC as an intense category 4 Tropical Cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 230 km/h. Very strong winds, heavy rains and storm surge affected the islands of Eua and Tongatapu, including the capital Nuku’alofa. On 13 February at 0.00 UTC, GITA was located 150 km south of Vatoa island (Lau archipelago, Fiji) and it had maximum sustained winds of 222 km/h.
Suva / Kuala Lumpur / Geneva, 13 February 2018 - Red Cross volunteers and staff are on high alert as Tropical Storm Gita barrels towards Fiji, having already caused floods in Samoa and destruction in Tonga.
Fiji Red Cross has emergency response teams on standby as Gita is expected to track through the southern Lau group of islands later tonight.
Tropical Cyclone (TC) Gita was initially monitored over the Pacific waters as a Tropical Depression 07F (TD07F) analyzed southeast of Vanuatu. TD07F was later upgraded to a Tropical Cyclone Category 1 as it moved South South-East affecting Samoa with heavy rain, causing flooding, and gusty winds of between 39-54 miles per hour from Friday 9 February 2018.
Tropical Cyclone GITA formed over the Southern Pacific Ocean on 9 February, close to Wallis and Futuna. It has passed near Samoa, American Samoa and east of Niue, causing damage and floods, especially in Samoa.
The Pacific Unsolicited Bilateral Donations (UBD) project is the first regionally coordinated approach aimed at reducing the number of UBD arrivals during humanitarian and disaster response.
Tropical Cyclone Gita passed Samoa on 10 February and Niue on 11 February, with damage and localized flooding reported in Samoa. TC Gita is forecast to strike Tonga on the evening of 12 February. As of 12 February, 12:00 UTC, TC Gita continues to move west as a Category 4 cyclone with winds of up to 213 km/h, it is expected to maintain this intensity as it passes over Tonga and into Fijian territorial waters. More than 80,000 people in Tonga are currently expected to be impacted by cyclone strength winds.
Tropical Cyclone Gita passed by Samoa on 10 February 2018 and Niue on 11 February 2018, with damages reported in Samoa, including localized flooding.
According to the Fiji Meteorological Service, Tropical Cyclone Gita is forecast to arrive in Tonga on Monday, 12 February 2018 in the evening. It is forecast to enter Fijian territory passing the Southern Lau Group on Tuesday, 13 February 2018.
Tens of thousands of people on Tonga's main island are preparing for the worst as Cyclone Gita bears down with category four force.
Bringing destructive winds and storm surges, Gita is expected to start affecting the island Tongatapu, where more than 70,000 people live, on Monday afternoon.
Tonga's National Emergency Management Office said it was still calm in the capital but that was expected to change soon.
"From our end we are alerting people to be prepared," director of Tonga's National Emergency Management Office Leveni Aho said.
4:11 pm on 11 February 2018
The clean up is continuing in the two Samoas after Tropical Cyclone Gita hit on Saturday morning.
There was extensive flooding, rivers burst banks and houses were flooded.
More than 200 people in Samoa needed emergency shelter.
A state of disaster was declared.
Read more on the Radio New Zealand International
(PRESS SECRETARIAT); The National Disaster Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, met today to discuss the status and effects of damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Gita - a Category 1 Cyclone currently affecting Samoa.
Reports submitted to the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) have detailed that the extent of damages caused by TC Gita are from flooding and strong winds.
A state of disaster has been declared in Samoa as authorities focus on rescue and evacuation in the wake of Cyclone Gita.
Read more on Radio New Zealand International
“TROPICAL CYCLONE WARNING CATEGORY 1 (39-54mph) WILL BE EFFECTIVE FOR SAMOA WITHIN THE NEXT 12-24HRS.”
“WIND ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR ALL OF SAMOA”
“HEAVY RAIN WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR SAMOA; FLOODING AND LANDSLIDE IS POSSIBLE FOR VULNERABLE AREAS.”
“FLOOD ADVISORY WILL BE EFFECTIVE FOR LOW-LYING COASTAL AREAS DUE TO HIGH SURF FROM SATURDAY MORNING.”
“ADVISORY FOR SMALL CRAFT AND ALIA FISHING BOATS REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR ALL SAMOA OPEN WATERS DUE TO STRONG AND GUSTY WITH HIGH COMBINED WAVES AND SWELLS.”
NADI – Humanitarian responders from six Pacific Island nations came together this week to improve how they prepare for and respond to natural disasters, fine-tuning their leadership and coordination skills. A two-and-a-half-day emergency simulation helped responders learn from each other and master the latest global best practices in emergency food security response.
What is the PHPC?
The regional Pacific Humanitarian Protection Cluster (PHPC) Support Team is a group of regional and international humanitarian organisations working together to assist Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) in preparing for and responding to disasters and emergencies.
‘Clusters’ are groups designated by the global Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) covering the main sectors of humanitarian action,such as protection.