Cyclone Gita leaves behind major flood damages

 

Flood waters subsiding at the middle of the Taufusi three corners several blocks up from the Town Clock

Staff Reporters

APIA, SAMOA – SATURDAY 10 FEBRUARY 2018: Samoa started cleaning up today as Cyclone Gita left a trail of major flood damage to private homes, tourism and general infrastructure.

Sheraton Hotel in Apia was swamped by flood waters up to the second level of the 5 Star hotel. Sheraton recently had a multi-million dollar upgrade and had been sold to a group of Chinese investors.

Located on the banks of the Vaisigano River, the guests were evacuated to nearby hotels when Cyclone Gita Category 2 arrived way much earlier than the weather forecast.

The Sheraton on the banks of the Vaisigano River almost under water

Elsewhere, the water had subsided but as people drove around after seven this morning, waist deep waters infront of the Mormon Temple, Pesega made crossing impossible. This was the same along the main road at Taufusi, Savalalo and Saleufi.

The main roads around the islands had been inaccessible as trees fell on the road at Puipa’a around the same place where a bus overturned and killed three people two weeks ago. Villagers and Emergency Service were quick to clear fallen trees to make the roads accessible.

The main road in other villages such as Satafa and Afega were too dangerous to cross as the rivers burst their banks and flood waters swept across the main road and directly into nearby homes.

Wind damages include private homes, businesses and their billboards that littered the roadsides and food trees such as bananas and breadfruit were the first to be brought down by the cyclone force winds.

The National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) met this afternoon and have detailed that the extent of damages caused by TC Gita are from flooding and strong winds.

As of 2pm this afternoon, the fifth Special Weather Bulletin issued by the Samoa Meteorological Services indicated that the TC category 2 warning (which was previously enforced for the Northern areas) was cancelled while the TC category 1 warning remains in force for all of Samoa.

Updates from Response Agencies received by the NEOC include:

• The restoration of electricity to Apia Urban areas including Toomatagi, Vaivase, Faatoia, Moataa, Vaitele, Toamua, Puipaa, Faleula, Aleisa to part of Ululoloa, Siusega and Tuanaimato.

The flood waters under the Leone Bridge and towards the Sheraton Hotel

• The Land Transport Authority continues to provide updates to NEOC as well as updating the general public through their Facebook page. They have been working to clear roads for major arterial routes and responding to calls as they have come in through emergency lines.

• Updates from the Samoa Tourism Authority for Savaii indicate medium damages to beach fales with major issues being no electricity, phone communication and no water supply in some areas. For Upolu in the town area – Sheraton guests have been evacuated to Sheraton Mulifanua, Tanoa and Hotel Insel Fehmarn.

• Evacuation shelters – are located at the National University of Samoa (Vaivase), Latter Day Saints (Vaitoloa) and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) at Lalovaea. They are fully operational, taking in 244 people that have contacted NEOC for assistance. Also assisting to shelter evacuees from TC Gita is the residence of Vaasilifiti Moelagi Jackson.
Food items for Evacuation shelters have been distributed – provided by the Government of Samoa.

• There have been no reports of any casualties as a result of Tropical Cyclone Gita.

Response Agencies have been working together with the NEOC to facilitate all calls from the public and dispatching support where help is needed.  For emergencies call 997 for 911.

Infront of the Mormon Temple, Pesega – Photo by Gerwin Polu

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