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‘No room for complacency’

Tuesday 14 November 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Local, National


‘No room for complacency’
Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown. PIFS / 23080719

A large crowd gathered at the National Auditorium on Sunday for the annual Cyclone Season Prayer Service, as two to three named cyclones are expected to pass through the Cook Islands this tropical cyclone season.

Prime Minister Mark Brown, who attended the prayer service, emphasised the importance of preparedness in the face of the impending cyclone season.

In a statement issued after the prayer service, Brown highlighted the Pacific region’s recent experience with three cyclones in the last one to two months and urged people to be vigilant.

The cyclone season runs from November 1 to April 30, and the Religious Advisory Council holds the annual prayer service each year to unite different church denominations “to give glory to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”.

Brown stated that the Cook Islands Meteorological Service has predicted a high risk of cyclones this season, with two or three expected to affect the islands. February 2024 is anticipated to be particularly active, with most cyclones likely occurring during that month.

The Cook Islands is also expected to experience less rainfall in the Southern Pa Enua and more rainfall in the Northern Pa Enua. 2023 is already the hottest year on record, with average temperatures up over 1.2 degrees Celsius. El Niño occurrence has also been confirmed and may well be the strongest on record, say Brown.

The Prime Minister emphasised the need for comprehensive disaster preparedness procedures and protocols in the face of extreme weather events linked to climate change.

He noted that the Pacific Islands Forum leaders, who met in Rarotonga last week, agreed on the need for a fossil-free Pacific as a global action to address climate change.

“The Cook Islands is one of 14 countries across the Pacific region where leaders have expressed their common and collective view that we are facing a climate emergency.

“We also share the opinion that the global community must act urgently to avert humanitarian disasters as a result of increased extreme events, such as more severe cyclones, high- intensity periods of heavy rainfall periods and droughts that cause crop failures.

“In this era of climate change it is more important than ever for us to continue our national investment in resilience measures and enduring infrastructure projects that can withstand whatever is thrown at them.”

Last year Cook Islands marked the 25th anniversary of Martin, the deadliest tropical cyclone of the 1997-1998 South Pacific Cyclone season.

PM Brown said: “What had started as a slight tropical disturbance a few days earlier on October 27, 1997, after it was officially named, Cyclone Martin tore through Pukapuka, Nassau, Rakahanga and Manihiki, causing absolute devastation and sadly the loss of 19 precious lives.”

“Cyclone Martin and the many other tropical cyclones that have impacted our nation in the years since, have taught us that there is no room for complacency when it comes to being prepared for the coming cyclone season.”