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Braced for possibility of cyclones

Thursday December 18, 2014 Written by Published in Weather
EMCI Director Charles Carlson. 14052905 EMCI Director Charles Carlson. 14052905

As the Cook Islands braces for an active cyclone season, key stakeholders have met to ensure the country is fully prepared.

A meeting organised by Emergency Management Cook Islands (EMCI) was held at the Red Cross yesterday and was attended by representatives from various government departments, the private sector and the New Zealand High Commission.

EMCI director Charles Carlson said the meeting was important so that various organisations understood their roles and responsibilities should a national response be required. 

“This meeting is important so that these people don’t come to us for information, they automatically know how to respond.”

Discussions during the meetings highlighted the need to streamline management efforts so that work done by the Red Cross was in line with Government action. 

The meeting included playing out step-by-step scenarios of what would happen should a cyclone warning occur.

The first step would be a warning issued by meteorologists to police, who would contact EMCI to determine the seriousness of the situation.

From there government departments would be notified, and depending on the severity of the cyclone, a state of emergency would be declared and beachfront residents, government departments and private sector businesses evacuated.

After the cyclone, affected outer islands would be visited as soon as possible while an immediate response to secure properties in Rarotonga would be executed.

EMCI has household dwelling statistics on the outer islands, allowing emergency response teams to target households with occupants who are elderly or have disabilities. 

The New Zealand High Commission said once a formal request for assistance had been made the New Zealand Defence Force could be on standby to provide transport for officials to and from outer islands. 

The meeting comes as a timely reminder for the risk of cyclones this season.

CINews recently reported that this year the southern Cook Islands can expect ‘elevated risk’.

Cyclonic activity is likely to be low during the first half of the season, but could increase from February onward. 

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