NASA announced the birth of Tropical Storm Evan on the 12th of December maybe not knowing just how damaging this storm would end up being.
The Samoan government has declared a state of disaster after now-Cyclone Evan ravaged the small South Pacific nation, leaving an unknown death toll and massive damages in its wake.
Cyclone Evan was drenching all in its path as it approached Samoa, but after Evan made landfall the damage was devastating. At least two people are confirmed dead while local authorities believe a number of children are believed to have drowned after being swept away in a flooded river.
The New Zealand high commissioner to Samoa, Nick Hurley, confirmed that police have informed him of a number of children currently missing-thought drowned in the main river in Samoa’s capital.
“This is the biggest one I’ve been through and I’ve been through difficult situations in the Pacific (before),” Mr Hurley added, speaking to Radio New Zealand. “The unpredictable nature of this one has made it quite different. The forecast winds did not give any indication of how strong the impact was going to be.”
The Samoan Disaster Management Office released a statement saying that “power is off for the whole country… Tanugamanono power plant is completely destroyed and we might not have power for at least two weeks.”
Meanwhile, Fiji’s interim Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama has warned Cyclone Evan will likely affect “every Fijian.”
“It has winds up to 180 kilometres an hour which may intensify, and if the weather forecasters are correct it will affect Fiji in a very damaging way, bringing about destructive winds and flooding,” he added.
“Fellow Fijians, I cannot stress how serious this is, every Fijian will be affected.”
There were originally fears that Evan would about-face and strike Samoa again, however Neville Koop, climate adviser to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program based in Suva has confirmed that the storm is now on track to hit Fiji.
“The centre of the cyclone is expected to pass close to the islands of Wallis and Futuna later tomorrow, early Sunday morning, and then of course the next major island group in the way would be Fiji,” he said.
“At this stage we anticipate the centre moving over the north eastern parts of Fiji late Sunday night.”
Good News for residents of Tonga according to the CEO of the Ministry of Infrastructure, Ringo Faoliu, who told Radio Australia that Cyclone Evan is 100 kilometres away from one of Tonga’s northern-most islands in the Niua group and has already passed two others in the chain.
Faoliu believes that Evan will bypass Tonga completely, based on information from the Meteorological Bureau.
The experts believe that Evan is likely to strengthen into a category four or five storm as it approaches Fiji leading Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for Information, Sharon Smith-Johns, to announce that evacuations have begun and preparations are well underway.
“It will be quite destructive. We’ve seen what’s happened in Samoa and all we can do is be prepared here lucky we’ve had a week’s notice of this,” she said.
“All the agencies have been deployed, emergency services on standby, evacuation centres are open, rations have gone out. Now it’s just a matter of continuing to clean up our own backyards and putting cyclone shutters up and waiting.”
Ms Smith-Johns says many people have fled to higher ground.
“There are people that have already taken precautions. They know that they live in flood prone areas and they’re moving to higher ground or moving in with relatives, so there is quite a lot of movement around Suva especially today and around and in the rural areas.”