12 Feb 2018

Building materials needed for Samoa recovery

7:01 pm on 12 February 2018

Families in Samoa who have had their houses severely affected by the flash floods says building materials is a huge demand post Cyclone Gita.

Red Cross staff checking on people flooded out in Samoa.

Red Cross staff checking on people flooded out in Samoa. Photo: Twitter @IFRCAsiaPacific

More than 200 people needed emergency shelter.

RNZ Pacific's correspondent in Samoa, Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia, noticed most businesses have returned back to work today to begin their assessment of the damages to their building as well as cleaning up debris to quickly resume business as usual.

Autagavaia said when a natural disaster occurs in Samoa, there is always a need for families overseas to fly over to help, but that might not be a good idea.

"I would urge families abroad to check in with their families here [Samoa] on what kind of assistance they desperately need.

"Money is helpful, but it is probably not the most important thing. Sending over building materials for houses is what families who's homes are damaged need.

"When disasters like this happen, the materials in shops always run out because so many people are affected," he said.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has announced that there have been no reports of any casualties as a result of Tropical Cyclone Gita.

The National Disaster Committee will continue assessing damages this week and will release another report that will include whether there are still any casualties.

Vaisigano river, Apia, during Cyclone Gita.  Many families living next to the river had to be evacuated.

Vaisigano river, Apia, during Cyclone Gita. Many families living next to the river had to be evacuated. Photo: Koko Cafe

People are advised to boil their water as sanitation has been compromised from the flash flooding.

"Houses without power are encouraged to use gas stoves. Most families in Samoa have gas stoves," Autagavaia said.

"For families who do not have gas stoves, there is assistance from NGOs in the area supplying water."

Samoa's Electrical Power Corporation are checking all power lines to ensure it is safe before reinstating power supply.

It says 30 percent of homes on both Savaii and Upolu have now had power restored.

The general manager Tologata Tile says the high voltage distribution lines have had to be restored and this work is mostly complete and full service, at least for Upolu, should be in place by Wednesday.

Tologata says most of the damage is due to trees on private property falling on power lines.

Flooding in Apia caused by Cyclone Gita.

Flooding in Apia caused by Cyclone Gita. Photo: Twitter: @setiafoa

American Samoa suffers major damage.

Our reporter in American Samoa Monica Miller said the territory's suffered extensive destruction when Gita blew through on Friday morning their time.

"Rooves have been blown off, not just individual homes but also businesses. There is also a lot of crop and tree damage. Then utility poles are still and a lot of places where overhead power lines have been snapped."

Monica Miller said there would be no public schools for all of the new week.

This was announced by Director of Education Dr Ruth Matagi Tofiga after a cabinet meeting this afternoon.

Dr Ruth said the Governor wants to make sure weather conditions are safe and school facilities are also safe before schools start.

Trump approves emergency declaration

The US Government has approved an emergency declaration for American Samoa in the wake of cyclone Gita.

The action authorises the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate all disaster relief efforts in American Samoa.

It also activates emergency protective measures which enable limited to direct assistance with up to 75 percent of the cost being met by the Federal government.

Damaged building in eastern Tutuila

Damaged building in eastern Tutuila Photo: RNZI/Monica Miller