In Wake Of Cyclone Evan, Samoa Begins Rebuilding
MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Dec. 19, 2012) – Samoa has moved into the recovery and rebuilding phase, after Cyclone Evan devastated the island last week.
Four people died in the storm, twelve people are missing and thousands are displaced and in evacuation centers.
The Head of State, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, has now issued a Proclamation of Emergency for the next 30 days.
The damage bill has been estimated at around US$300 million.
Seven schools have been destroyed and 44 other schools and dozens of other buildings left damaged.
Samoa's Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele, has called on his ministers to go out and survey the damage first hand.
Mr. Sailele told Radio Australia'sPacific Beat that the highly-technical language used in official forecasts might explain Samoa's unpreparedness.
"There was one word, called 'Afa', which means in English 'storm'," Mr. Sailele said. "All you need to say is that one word and everybody understood. But the technicians confined themselves to the actual words used by the technicians when describing the strength of the winds and also the below-cyclone stage. I think that was the main problem - the problem of language."
Oxfam's Water and Sanitation Advisor, Andy Thomson, told Pacific Beat that Samoa's water supply was out and many people are returning to traditional methods of water collection.
"They're heading back towards their traditional (way of) collecting water from their well known older water sources they were using," he said. "So I've seen people in the countryside using buckets, young boys and girls collecting water for Mum and Dad, and they may need to be doing that for some time."
People in neighboring American Samoa, which was largely spared by the cyclone, have been urged by their government to help.
Local journalist Monica Miller says the ferry between American Samoa and Samoa, the Lady Naomi, has begun carrying emergency supplies.
"There were over 13 pallets of bottled water...a lot of clothing and canned food, and also tents," she said.
"In addition to what was sent over by the government of American Samoa, collected from local individuals and businesses, individuals here - most of the population in American Samoa are people from Western Samoa - and so a lot of people were at the dock waiting to send over their supplies as well.
"The Samoa Shipping Corporation, which owns the ferry, decided not to charge for any of this...so I am very proud of the reports that came in from Apia saying that came in handy."
Meanwhile, the search for four missing fishing boats and their 10 crew off Samoa has been suspended after three days of searching failed to find any sign of them.
Australia pledges aid
Australia has pledged an initial AU$1 million [US$1.05 million] each to Fiji and Samoa in emergency assistance and relief supplies for communities devastated by Cyclone Evan.
Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr says two disaster relief experts from AusAID's Rapid Response Team are travelling today to Suva to support damage assessment and respond to urgent relief needs.
"The Australian Civilian Corps is also on standby for early deployment," he said in a statement.
"To help our Pacific neighbors, Australia is supporting damage assessments and we will provide logistics support to deliver relief items such as tarpaulins, water purification tablets and shelter.
"This support includes 1,500 family kits for the people of Fiji and will assist 4,000 family households in Samoa."
Senator Carr says an additional DFAT officer will also be dispatched to Suva to provide consular assistance to Australians.
Canberra will consider further assistance in both Samoa and Fiji following talks with relevant authorities and when more information came to light about the extent of the damage.
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