29 Nov 2015

Cyclone brings flooding to Samoa

11:45 am on 29 November 2015

Emergency services in Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga are getting a clearer picture this morning of the damage left by Tropical Cyclone Tuni.

Flooding in downtown Apia brought by Tropical Cyclone Tuni.

Flooding in downtown Apia brought by Tropical Cyclone Tuni. Photo: RNZI / Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

The category 1 cyclone battered Samoa and American Samoa yesterday bringing torrential rain that caused flooding and slips, while strong winds were recorded in Tonga. The storm is due to pass close to Niue tomorrow.

In Samoa, flash flooding was reported across the island of Savai'i and homes were evacuated in the capital Apia.

Much of the coastal road around the main island of Upolu was impassable last night because of flooded fords and rivers, and landslips.

The Vaisigano River, which flows through the capital Apia, burst its banks yesterday but Samoa's Disaster Management Office said water levels there and around the island had since dropped.

Markets, shops and homes were flooded on the island of Savai'i and all inter-island ferry crossings have been cancelled for today.

Radio New Zealand International correspondent in Samoa, Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia, said the southwest of Savai'i felt the full force of Tuni overnight.

Tropical cyclone and heavy rain warnings remain in effect for all of Samoa, and low lying coastal areas are warned of flooding due to high surf, the Disaster Management Office said.

Contract workers early this morning in American Samoa, clearing mud and debris on the main highway on the main island of Tutuila, due to Tropical Cyclone Tuni

Contract workers clearing mud and debris on the main highway on the main island of Tutuila, American Samoa. Photo: RNZI/Fili Sagapolutele

America Samoa

Communities in American Samoa are today attempting to clean up roads and villages of debris scattered by the passing weather system.

American Samoa's Emergency Operations Center has conveyed reports of homes flooded in Tula, Amouli, Fagaitua, Amaua, Leloaloa and Pago Pago.

There has been a landslide at Fatu ma Futi, and debris blocked the road in several parts of the island.

The landslide at Gataivai is the same location where the CCCAS Gataivai Church building (left) was destroyed during a major landslide last year.

Landslide in American Samoa following heavy rain from Tropical Cyclone Tuni. Photo: RNZI/Fili Sagapolutele

Fale Ulufale, information officer for Homeland Security, said fallen trees had damaged power lines in Masausi and Happy Valley.

Meanwhile debris such as tree branches, coconuts and rocks are strewn around many areas, on both the main island Tutuila and other islands.

In the Manu'a Island group, there were reports of strong winds and heavy rain.

RNZI's correspondent in Pago Pago Fili Sagapolutele said the territorial government and police began dispatching clean-up crews last night to clear roads and fix wires in order to retore power.

These crews, as well as local villagers, were continuing their work today, as intermittent strong winds and rain allowed.

Ms Sagapolutele said the government and partner agencies had begun assessing the extent of the damage and a final estimate was not likely to be known for a week.


Tonga's Meteorology Service forecasts Cyclone Tuni to continue to track eastwards away from the kingdom's northern islands.

The weather system has been passing to the north east of the islands of Nuiafo'ou and Niuatoputapu where gale warnings remain in force.

Niuatoputapu recorded winds gusts of up to to 90 kilometres per hour yesterday, and received more than 100mm of rain in a 24 hour period. A heavy rain warning remains in force.

The Meteorology Service says phone lines to the northern islands have been down, so communication is currently relying on two-way radio.

It says the islands can expect damaging gale force winds with momentary gusts as high as 85 km/h, and there is the possibility of flash flooding in low-lying areas.

It was hoped a clearer picture would emerge later today of any damage caused by Tuni in the northern group.

Tuni is moving in a southeast direction and is forecast to pass close to Niue tomorrow.

The Fiji Met Service says while Tuni was only a category 1 storm, it has quite a sting due to the heavy rain bands associated with it.

Forecaster Misaeli Funaki said a strong wind warning had been issued for Niue but that would be reviewed later today.

The path of Tropical Cyclone Tuni on Sunday morning.

The path of Tropical Cyclone Tuni on Sunday morning. Photo: SUPPLIED / Samoa DMO