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Cyclone ‘miraculously’ spares Samoa

Tuesday 26 April 2016 | Published in Regional


samoa – Samoa appears to have emerged largely unscathed by Cyclone Amos which was predicted to violently hit the country on Saturday night.

Amos was forecast to directly impact Samoa as a category three or four storm but the system weakened dramatically as it approached Samoa’s two main islands.

There has been no reported loss of life with local officials and aid groups saying the island is largely unscathed.

The Samoa Observer says many Samoans believe their islands were spared by a miracle.

Communications spokeswoman Corinne Ambler said a team of volunteers helped evacuate families from low lying areas on Saturday night.

“But the storm was not as powerful as predicted and the level of damage we’d expected hasn’t eventuated,” she said.

The chief executive of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Suluimalo Amataga Penaia said Samoa had come out of the cyclone relatively unscathed.

There are no reports of injuries or serious damage to houses after winds of up to 120 kilometres an hour buffeted the country and torrential rain swept away roads on Saturday night.

Samoa Meteorology said winds of up to 87 kilometres an hour continued to affect the country on Sunday, in particular the southern island Upolu.

Samoa’s Disaster Management Office said there was significant damage to coastal roads, particularly on the northern island Savai‘i, and it urged people to use inland routes.

The Red Cross team based in Apia said it was assessing damage in remote areas.

Four families in Savai‘i and one in Upolu had to evacuate to higher ground, according to government sources.

It said about 70 per cent of the country experienced power outages as a result of the cyclone, but full power has since been restored.

The Ministry of Health has also advised the public to be mindful of water consumption, sanitation and hygiene.

With Cyclone Amos gone from Samoa, a question some people were asking was, “What happened, was it a miracle?”, the Samoa Observer reported on Monday.

However, while Samoa had prepared for the worst over the weekend– it appears the various weather forecasting sources, based in the Pacific and globally, posted conflicting category predictions and led to confusion about the storm’s severity.

Some of the confusion came from a Samoa Met Office bulletin saying the that the eye of Cyclone Amos was on top of Samoa at one stage. However by 2am on Sunday morning, Amos had been and gone without the ferocity expected.

Assistant CEO of the Meteorology Division, Mulipola Ausetalia Titimaea, told the Samoa Observer there was “no miracle”, – the simple explanation was that Cyclone Amos was did not hit as a category three or four cyclone as had been predicted.

“It’s not a miracle but what happened was that everyone thought that the radius of influence was for a category three or four cyclone,” he said.

“We did indicate in one of our bulletins that if the situation warranted, we might issue a category three warning – we also gave a time frame that there was a possibility that in the next 12 hours that might change.

“It was predicted that it could reach category three or category four, but it didn’t.”

“It wasn’t a severe tropical cyclone because the eye wasn’t really clear and that is why some people won’t understand because there is special technique to determine where the eye of the cyclone is and definitely the eye was not on top of us.”

Despite the cyclone turning out weaker than expected, the Samoa Observer says the people of Samoa were well prepared.

“One thing certain was that when Cyclone Amos hit, Samoa was as ready as it could be,” the paper reports.

“Businesses, houses, buildings and personal assets were seen all over Samoa being covered by plywood, sandbags or secured by any means necessary. The sun shining briefly at mid-day on Saturday did not change these mindsets.

“Preparing for the worst was on everyone’s to-do list following warnings about the escalating force of Amos.”

An initial overview by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment confirmed minimal damage and loss to crops such as banana and breadfruit. CEO Suluimalo said some plantations had been damaged by the storm, but most had come through “okay”.

“It’s mainly some banana patches. But taro plantations, you know, everything according to our reports are doing okay. There’s only some banana patches that have fallen down, but with the taro plantations, it’s all fine.”

Amos was heading towards American Samoa, but authorities there cancelled a hurricane warning as wind speeds diminished. - PNC sources