A Tonga National Emergency Coordination Centre was activated today in response to Tropical Cyclone Winston.
The activation followed a meeting of the National Emergency Management Committee (NEMC) chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Hon Siaosi Sovaleni this morning in Nuku’alofa.
Tonga’s Director of Meteorology, ‘Ofa Fa’anunu told NEMC that Cyclone Winston, category 2 poses a direct threat to Ha’apai and Vava’u, and also that there is a likelihood that the cyclone could turn around after passing Vava’u and head back toward Tongatapu and ‘Eua.
Hon Sovaleni said the NEMC has been activated so that all stakeholders can start preparing.
“NEMC will be asking Cabinet for the approval of start-up funding from the Emergency Fund to support the initial response in case there is a need for that from both Ha’apai and Vava’u. This fund will also include a continuing response to the Zika virus,” they said in a statement.
Government Ministries and other agencies in NEMC include the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Internal Affairs; Ministry of Health; Ministry of Finance and National Planning; Ministry of Infrastructure; Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Forestry; Ministry of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources; Ministry of Education and Training; Tonga Police Force; His Majesty’s Armed Forces, and Tonga Red Cross, and also the Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management (NEMO), Environment, Climate Change and Communications (or MEIDECC) who coordinates the work of NEMC.
Both Tonga Telecommunication Corporation (TCC) and Digicel (Tonga) Ltd are part of NEMC and provide support through their mobile and telecommunication networks.
The NEMC will be tracking and monitoring the cyclone’s movement throughout the day before another meeting and briefing at 5pm this afternoon.
The committee will advise the Prime Minister if there is a need to declare a state of emergency, if that is warranted, the statement said.