Samoa is likely to have seen the worst of Cyclone Evan, with New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Samoa Nick Hurley saying he does not believe the storm will return.
Three people, including two children, are reported to have been killed after the cyclone hit Samoa.
The capital Apia has been hit by wind gusts of 160km/h and a four metre-high storm surge, and throughout the country there is widespread surface flooding and power cuts.
The Samoan government has issued a disaster declaration, and thousands of people have been evacuated to higher ground.
Corey Keil of Radio Polynesia says the cyclone is the worst he’s ever seen.
“The amount of water that it’s brought into the country is just incredible,” he says.
“That amount of buildings that have been washed away because of rivers overflowing – it’s nothing like I’ve ever seen before.”
Mr Keil says the historic Aggie Greys hotel has been flooded with more than two metres of water, forcing guests and staff to shelter on upper floors.
Emergency personnel on standby
The Red Cross says it has a team of trained disaster response volunteers on the ground in Samoa, who will assess the damage as soon as the weather clears.
Its warehouse is fully stocked with tarpaulins, first aid kits, water containers and kitchen sets, which volunteers will distribute as soon as they are able.
New Zealand staff are also on standby if required.
“We are working with the MFAT emergency task force to ensure any response is coordinated,” says Andrew McKie, New Zealand Red Cross international operations and emergencies manager.
“We are also monitoring other Pacific Islands and are in contact with our partner national societies there.”
The Red Cross is urging people not to donate goods, but will be setting up a fund on its website today.
Virgin Australia has cancelled its flights between Apia and Auckland today, but Air New Zealand is hoping operate its flight out of Auckland at 8:05pm as scheduled. It has also chartered a second flight at 9:30pm for passengers who were affected by cancellations yesterday.
Cyclone heads for Fiji
The Samoan Meteorological Service says Evan is moving away from Samoa more quickly now, and may be 63 kilometres north-northwest of Apia by this evening.
It is then expected to move south or southwest towards Fiji by the end of the weekend, intensifying to a Category 4 storm.
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3 News / RadioLIVE / NZN