Despite winds of 120km/h tearing through the country and torrential rain, Samoa has emerged largely unscathed by Cyclone Amos, which hit the country overnight.
Roads have being swept away, trees have fallen and there is flooding in low-lying areas, but there was less damage than anticipated and there has been no loss of life reported.
The Category 3 storm with winds of 120km/h winds traveled quickly through the country in the early hours of this morning. The centre of the cyclone passed between 20 – 25km along the northern shores of Savai’i and Upolu, missing the capital Apia, home to more than 37,000 people. The Samoan Meteorological Division reported heavy rain, strong winds and high sea swells. Heavy rain warnings remain in effect and a flood advisory is in place in coastal areas. The storm is veering southeast away from Samoa.
Oxfam is sending humanitarian staff to support the Samoan government in any relief efforts. Working closely with the Samoan National Disaster Management Office and local Samoan and humanitarian agencies, Oxfam will join a coordinated team of assessors surveying any damage and contributing to any response plans.
Oxfam Australia’s Humanitarian Manager, Meg Quartermaine said Pacific communities are once again bearing the brunt of the super-charged El Niño gripping the region.
“Our thoughts are very much with those who had to endure another near disaster, but we are relieved that Samoa escaped relatively unscathed,” Ms Quartermaine said.
“Oxfam has a deep relationship with communities in Samoa going back to 1991. Part of our work there has focused on ensuring that communities are prepared for extreme weather events.
“In 2012, we installed rainwater tanks, cyclone-proof shelters and latrines in coastal communities and supported cyclone debris removal from water sources on the outskirts of Apia. Our expertise is in water and sanitation, and we have equipment ready in Samoa to initiate water trucking if it’s required.”
Oxfam has many years’ experience working in Samoa, supporting communities in the immediate aftermath of the devastating 2009 tsunami and following 2012’s Cyclone Evan.
We have also been partnered with Women in Business Development Inc (WIBDI) since 1991. Through the partnership, hundreds of families are using organic techniques to grow more, and better, food. This has meant healthier diets, as well as new sources of income, as excess crops are sold in local markets.
Donations to support communities affected by disaster can be made online at https://www.oxfam.org.au/my/donate/international-crisis-fund or by calling 1800 034 034.
For interviews, images or more information, please contact Bianca Wordley on 0407 799 365 or firstname.lastname@example.org