Electricity restored in Apia Business Centre as 4,500 people displaced

Debris brought by the flash floods at Lelata PHOTO: Angela Kronfeld

By Lance Polu

APIA: MONDAY 17 DECEMBER 2012: Electricity supply has been restored to the Apia main business centre on Beach Road as work continue to restore power supply on Upolu island with broken electricity lines and poles pushed over at the height of Cyclone Evan.

It will however take sometime before electricity is restored at worst hit areas by the flash floods like Lelata, Maagiagi, Maagao, Faatoia, Leone, Vaipuna, Matautu and surrounding areas.

Talamua earlier described the damage as similar to the devastation by a tsunami as the power of the huge body of water rushed down the Vaisigano River from the mountains gathering tree trunks and everything in its path and flattened the residential areas in these places. Four people have been confirmed dead mainly by drowning.

The number of displaced persons sheltered at various facilities around the capital has increased to over 4,500 up from 3,200 reported Saturday that constituted mainly of those displaced by the flooding of the Vaisigano River in Apia.

According to DMO, the shelters are coping with food but there is increasing demand for safe drinking water. There is also a growing need for clothing and linen.

The shelters are being supervised and staffed in a co-operation between the Health Ministry, Education Ministry, Caritas and the Samoa Red Cross Society.

The Ministry of Health staff has been monitoring proper hygiene and sanitation at these shelters, to prevent an outbreak of disease.

Some local stores and individuals have been donating clothes to the shelters, through the DMO office at Tuanaimato.

The Lady Naomi ferry is arriving this afternoon from American Samoa bringing over donated food, water and clothing supplies from the Territory. The Government in the territory has allowed workers to help relatives in Samoa while on a five days full pay.

Falling power poles and power lines blocking the main road PHOTO: Gerwin Polu

Teams from the Disaster Management Office (DMO) have completed ground assessment for flood-hit Lelata, Magiagi, Ma’agao, Faatoia, Leone, Vaipuna, Matautu and surrounding area.

Ground assessments have also been completed for the east coast of Upolu from Laulii through to Solosolo and Falefa to Lemafa Pass. Teams today are on location at Safata, Falealili and Aleipata. Overall damage to homes and infrastructure in the area has been described as ‘quite considerable’. Another assessment team is on its way to Manono Island.

Initial assessment reports from Savaii describe damage to homes and infrastructure as at ‘a minimum’. Much of the damage there reportedly, is confined to plantations and forestry.

A full ground-assessment report including recommendations will be tabled at the National Disaster Council meeting – chaired by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi- this afternoon. A full course of action will then be finalized and implemented.

A P3 Orion plane from Auckland arrived in Samoa airspace yesterday morning and begun a search and rescue operation for three missing alia fishing boats and their crew. The fishermen left earlier in the week before Cyclone Evan developed.

The Orion will be in Samoa for two days and depending on how long the search and rescue operation takes, will also aim to undertake aerial imaging of the damage to Samoa from the cyclone to complement the on-ground assessments now in their second day. The flight will also bring a New Zealand environmental health specialist to support Samoa’s assessment.

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