EMCI Director Charles Carlson, who was co-ordinating the exercise at the Red Cross Head Quarters in Tupapa, said the purpose of the training was to test its national emergency management and co-ordination arrangements during an emergency, or disaster response, in the island and even for an international response. Carlson said their objective was to establish a clear communication network from Cook Islands Meteorological Service to EMCI, police, government departments and the public. The exercise involved a group of people who were given a scenario of a category-five cyclone named TC Kara that was approaching and estimated to hit Te Nga Pu Toru (Atiu, Mauke, Mitiaro) in the next 24 hours. Carlson said when a cyclone is about to hit a certain area, there is a moment called the peace period and that is when people must get prepared.
He informed the stakeholders that it was important to share information about what they know about each of the islands so they know the tasks that needed to be done before, and after, the cyclone hits.
The expectation of the exercise was to build understanding between the stakeholders and strengthen communication networks during national emergencies and the response to them.
From the exercise, all agencies would have better understanding of their roles and responsibilities and EMCI would be able to provide a proper baseline of area data to assist with advance planning and preparedness.
Meanwhile, the exercise was also held to test and showcase EMCI’s Geo Portal in providing baseline data of areas expected to be affected prior to the event. It also highlights the urgency of an overview and damage assessment for a speedy national and international response.
The cyclone season is from the middle of this month to the middle of April.
The official 2016/17 tropical cyclone season begins on November 1 and ends on April 30 next year and the peak period for cyclones in the region is usually from January to March.
The Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre based in Fiji says that based on the latest information, the probability of tropical cyclone occurrences is elevated for Fiji and Tonga while Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna are predicted normal during the upcoming 2016/17 season.