Samoa on alert after close call with cyclone

By Cassandra Mason

Samoans are breathing a "heavy sigh of relief" this morning after a tropical cyclone passed dangerously close to the capital.

Cyclone Garry is still moving past at about 200km northeast of Apia, which was badly damaged by Cyclone Evan in December.

"The alert is still there but it's been reduced very much, it's now a storm advisory," said New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa, Nick Hurley.

While Hurley said the cyclone is moving quickly, at about 20km per hour, it is heading "slightly further away" in an easterly direction.

"It hasn't had a direct hit on Samoa so at the moment people are sighing a heavy sigh of relief," he said.

While Apia had not even experienced any rain, water levels were a lot fuller than usual and people were being "cautious".

"You never know, cyclones can do silly things like turn around."

With forecasts showing a continued pathway east, the impact on Samoa for the time being is "minimal", said Hurley.

Yet people were still nervous about what the cyclone might do.

"Having had the scare and impact of [Cyclone Evan], people are a lot more conscious this time both in terms of the authorities ... frequency of reports and preparedness," he said.

"This time people moved out of low lying areas, doing all those things they needed to do... their radios, batteries and their food supplies."

And with climate change set to increase the number and intensity of the storms, this won't be a "one-off event", he said.

Samoa is still recovering from the impact of Cyclone Evan, which wreaked havoc in the island nation last month.

While most infrastructure is back up and running, the Samoan National Disaster Coordination Centre wants people to remain vigilant over the next 12 to 24 hours, 3 News reported.

- nzherald.co.nz

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