AFAP manages the Australian-Pacific Centre for Emergency and Disaster Information (APCEDI) to provide news on natural disaster events in the Asia-Pacific region and to help with rapid disaster response assessment. This was originally a communications network that was activated during a disaster to disseminate information to our Asia-Pacific NGO offices. Now APCEDI has a much wider application across the Asia-Pacific Region.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

APCEDI Alert 07P, Cyclone Heta #8, 2004

Dear Colleagues

Alert #8 / 06 January 2004, Sydney 12:00 EDT

The eyewall of Super Cyclone Heta is continuing to make a beeline for Niue as it pulls away from Tonga. Lots of reports are now coming in from American Samoa and to a lesser extent from Samoa.

The following will be a country by country assessment.

American Samoa: A state of emergency has been declared by Acting Governor Aitofele Sunia. No deaths and one serious injury has been reported (electrocution from downed powerline). Airport Terminal has lost much of its roof. Widespread moderate to locally severe damage to village dwellings, powerlines, roads and crops especially from along low-lying areas along the north coast. Power is out in most rural areas and in some town areas.

Samoa: Samoa Broadcasting Corporation which has stayed on the air is reported extensive moderate to locally severe damage to village dwellings, powerlines, roads and crops in the Apia area and along the north coast. Power is out in most rural areas and in many areas of the capital. No reports of deaths or injuries have been received and an unsubstantiated report about a death from drowning in the storm surge has been officially discounted. Reports from Savai’i continue to be hampered by lack of communication as phone services are still down and all electrical power has been cut throughout.

Some good news to report is that the seawalls which have been built on both Savai’i and Upolu in the last decade seem to be having a very positive effect and are significantly helping to limit damage. Local people have also noted the frequency and quality of warnings and alerts over the radio (nearly every half hour) have been very useful in preparing for and riding out the storm. Once this situation is over, it would be great to do a lesson’s learned analysis on the how the improved cyclone preparation measures in Samoa over the last decade have withstood this test of Super Cyclone Heta.

Tonga: The NDMO is reporting to Radio New Zealand that Tonga has not suffered much damage. While this may be an accurate assessment for much of the populated south of the country, NDMO states that it does not have any reports from Tafahi and Niuatoputapu, which received a direct hit from the core area of the cyclone and just missed the eyewall. Therefore an urgent effort needs to be made to assess the situation quickly on these two northern outliers by one means or another as serious damage would be expected giving the proximity of the Category 5 storm to the islands overnight.

Niue: Sustained winds of 60 km/ hour with gusts up to 80 km/h are being reported as the eyewall continues to approach the island. However, reports have indicated that all preparations for the storm were complete as of early this morning.

Wallis and Futuna: No further reports have been received since the last report.

More detailed information about the storm can be found on

Kevin Vang
APCEDI Coordinator

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