Tonga Cancels State Of Emergency, Cyclone Threat Over

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Category 3 Ula does less damage than expected

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Jan. 5, 2016) – The Tonga government last night cancelled a State of Emergency that was declared for Vava’u and Ha’apai on 31 January as Tropical Cyclone Ula entered Tongan waters.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the National Emergency Management Committee (NEMO) Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni said this morning, that the State of Emergency was terminated by the Prime Minister at 10:00pm on 4 January, after he had visited Vava'u with a team to assess the situation. The team recommended the termination of the SoE.

Tropical Cyclone Ula, Category 3, was expected to hit Vava’u on Saturday night, 2 January, but fortunately it diverted a little and it did not inflict as much damage as it was expected.

Cyclone Ula also passed by Ha’apai with winds gusting up to 120kph and again did not inflict as much damage as it was feared.

Hon. Sovaleni said that apart from damage to a causeway at the village of Uoleva during high tide, there was no serious damange to any public infrastructure on the island.

‘Ofa Fa’anunu, the Director of Tonga Met pointed out that Vava’u missed the full impact of Ula and were blessed with a drop of heavy rain for about five hours on Saturday, 2 January.

Cyclone alert

Hon. Sovaleni was satisfied with their state of alertness for Ula. Part of their preparation was the establishment of 16 Evacuation Centres in Vava’u and three in Ha’apai, located in Latter Day’s Saints Church buildings.

In Vava’u about 500 people, many of them disabled people in wheel chairs took shelter in the centres after the State of Emergency was declared on the night of Thursday, 31 December.

Ula was the second tropical cyclone to have visited Tonga during the current cyclone season, but according to ‘Ofa they are expecting three or to come Tonga's way this year.

Meanwhile, the whole of Tonga is experiencing drought and water shortages due to El Nino conditions.

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