Cook Islands Meteorological Service Defends Warnings About Recent Cyclone

Social media criticism dismissed by authorities

By Losirene Lacanivalu

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Feb. 23, 2017) – Emergency authorities and the weather bureau say they are happy with what was done to warn people about the arrival of Tropical Cyclone Bart late on Monday night.

There has been criticism from people on social media that there was not enough warning about the storm.

But the director of Cook Islands Meteorological Service Arona Ngari says a special weather bulletin was aired on CI Television on Monday night for a strong wind warning that was heading towards Rarotonga.

He said another weather bulletin was aired on CI TV on early Tuesday morning in regards to TC Bart. 

“We also sent out messages to different departments that morning such as the police and Emergency Management Cook Islands about the cyclone so that they can send the message out to the public also,” Ngari said.

He said for people, who had no access to television or radio, they could always access the CIMS Facebook page.

The CIMS Facebook page recorded an increase of about 798 likes compared to 120 likes when it was initiated and this showed that people were heeding the weather warning.

Nagari said CIMS is always ready to send out cyclone warning to radio stations and televisions especially for the month of February because this is the peak month for cyclones in the Cook Islands.

“It is not just Rarotonga but also the outer islands, everyone should be alert during this season.” And Emergency Management Cook Islands has again called out to the public reminding them that disaster preparedness is everyone’s responsibility.

This comes after CI News raised questions to EMCI on whether any official cyclone warning was issued to the general public when tropical depression 15F (TD15F) formed into Tropical Cyclone Bart late on Monday night.

TC Bart was a category-one cyclone that made its way to the Southern Group and was situated west-south-west of Rarotonga at around 2am on Tuesday.

EMCI director Charles Carlson reiterates that it is everyone’s responsibility to be prepared and this includes all government agencies and the wider public.

“We all know this is the cyclone season and therefore we should all have been prepared since November last year,” Carlson said.

Carlson said another point that needs to get across to the public - and he has said this time and again - is that a “tropical depression can be as damaging as a cyclone’’.

“People don’t take it seriously and I’m sure many of those who have not bothered to prepare for the cyclone season were panicking the other night,” he said.

Ngari also reiterates the need to be disaster prepared.

He added the Nikao Seawall at the airport was closed on Tuesday and all drivers were advised.

“This is because there were strong winds and high waves that were going over the seawall and on to the road, it is all about safety. We cannot risk anyone getting injured,” Ngari said.

Meanwhile, Carlson said the last resort of warning would be to activate all 11 working sirens on the islands bearing also in mind this is just another means of communication and not everyone will hear it.

He added that the blast texting through Bluesky is currently being explored. 

Cook Islands News
Copyright © 2017 Cook Islands News. All Rights Reserved

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment