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APIA, Samoa (Samoalive Jan. 5) - What a great relief that Cyclone Heta has come and gone in the last 24 hours. While there are still strong wind gusts from the tail end of the cyclone, the sound of chain saws and bulldozers now dominate the country as the clearing and repairs start.

The cyclone had brought out some outstanding response by public services which had been privatized in the last two years. The private companies were moving rapidly to undertake repair services throughout the cyclone. This was in contrast to the services still under the control of the government, which was responsive but still a little bit slower than the private businesses.

The rehabilitation bill for Samoa and American Samoa will be quite hefty to rebuild, mainly coastal roads damaged by the strong and unrelenting surf in the last 24 hours.

The Samoan National Disaster Committee has started its assessment of the damage. It may take another few weeks to get a better picture of the rehabilitation.

The Samoan Government has moved swiftly to organize the rehabilitation task ahead. A State of Emergency under the constitution has been declared by the Head of State, His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II, which effectively gives wide powers to the Government in the next seven days to direct the rehabilitation.

The public holiday originally set today for the 91st birthday of His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II has been cancelled and employees have been asked to report back to their employers so that critical services in both the government and the private sector are available immediately to the public.

January 6, 2003



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