More Heavy Rains, Flooding, Landslides Expected In Samoa

admin's picture

Disaster Office warns people to stay out of contaminated water

By Sophie Budvietas

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Jan. 5, 2014) – The government agency responsible for coordinating disaster risk management programmes has issued a warning to all members of the public.

The warning from the Disaster Management Office (DMO) comes as the Samoa Meteorological Service predicts more rain, flooding and landslides over the coming days.

"Please do not allow children to play in the floodwaters," Filomena Nelson says. "They can be mixed up with all sorts of contaminants and debris. Also, please avoid the storm drains – we don’t want any more deaths."

Ms. Nelson is the Principal Management Disaster Officer for the Disaster Management Office.

During an interview with the Sunday Samoan yesterday, Ms. Nelson urged members of the public to take extra care.

[PIR editor’s note: Talamua reported that 2 people are dead and 2 missing after "their car was washed away crossing a river at Ti’avea on the Eastern side of Upolu Island."] Although the weather had calmed down considerably yesterday, she urges people to avoid the receding floodwaters as they can be contaminated with toxins and littered with debris.

"Floodwaters may have picked up sewage and chemicals from roads, plantations, factories and storage buildings.

Spoiled food, flooded cosmetics and medicine must be disposed of as they will make you sick."

Ms. Nelson also urged to "always boil water before drinking as during flooding water supply is usually dirty."

The DMO says people should ensure electrical appliances are not used straight away.

"Dry them first then check if they are safe to use. Check gas valves for potential leakages, do not smoke or use candles, lanterns or open flames unless you are sure the gas has been turned off and the area has been ventilated."

Ms. Nelson said the DMO emergency centre worked throughout the rough weather days during the past few days – liaising with the relevant authorities to assist people during the severe weather.

"We received calls for evacuation from families in flooded areas, mainly from villages surrounding the Vaisigano River, who didn’t have cars," she said.

"So we coordinated with the Fire and Police services to move people out. The evacuees are now being housed with relatives.

"We also received a lot of calls from families to have trees cut down near houses. That was done from yesterday onwards. And the DMO provided tarpaulins to families in need."

Ms. Nelson said her office is monitoring the situation through the Samoa Meteorological Service (SMS).

"If another severe weather situation occurs, we will re-open it," she said about the DMO office which was closed on Friday at 6pm.

In regards to road closures, the only closed road in Samoa is the road linking Apia to Aleipata, where the accident occurred that claimed two lives this week.

"That is the only road closed at the moment and the LTA advises it will continue to be closed for several days until it has been fixed," she said.

"That closure was from Thursday. There are no other reports at this stage about road closures here or in Savai’i.

"Ferry services have reopened and should be running as scheduled, we haven’t heard any reports to the contrary."

Meanwhile, the SMS latest forecast at the time of publication reads that an active convergence zone continues to lie over Samoa.

"Associated showers and moderate to fresh northeast to northwest winds continue to affect the group," the advisory reads.

"High wind advisory remains in effect for the Samoan region. Heavy rain warning remains in effect for Samoa.

"Flooding and landslides are possible for vulnerable areas."

The SMS advisory for small crafts and alia fishing boats remains in effect for all Samoa open waters due to high swells and fresh northeast to northwest winds.

"For tonight and tomorrow (there will be) scattered showers, heavy at times with thunderstorms possible. Fresh and gusty winds and showers."

According to DMO information, certain areas of Samoa are vulnerable to flooding due to heavy rainfall and strong wave activated.

"Such as the Apia urban area, villages close to rivers and streams and low lying coastal areas," it reads.

"Flooding usually takes place during the cyclone season from November to March of every year.

"In the event that flooding is possible, a flood advisory is issued by the Meteorology Division.

"Because flooding can happen within minutes or hours of heavy rainfall, it is very important that businesses that operate and people living in areas that are easily affected by flooding are aware of what to do."

It says upon hearing a flood advisory people should listen for emergency instructions, ensure that all your family members are present and watch for rapidly rising water.

"Store drinking water in sealed plastic containers, move livestock to higher ground and move household items to higher levels," it advises.

"Secure objects that could float and cause damage.

"Evacuate if necessary when it is safe to do so, don't move quickly.

"Turn off electricity at the main switch before evacuating."

The DMO advises that during a flood people should avoid areas that are prone to flash flooding.

"Don't attempt to cross rivers or streams where water is above knee level and beware of water covered roads and bridges," it says.

"Animals can swim well. Do not leave them in confined areas or pens and open gates so that animals can escape."

For further updates on the situation please visit either the DMO’s or SMS’s Facebook pages as both are updated regularly. The DMO emergency information can also be found in the latest edition of Samoa’s Yellow Pages.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment