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NZ steps up assistance for cyclone-ravaged Samoa

Published: 9:46AM Tuesday December 18, 2012 Source: ONE News

New Zealand will provide further assistance to Samoa in the aftermath of Cyclone Evan.

The cyclone last Thursday night ripped through houses, knocked down power poles and trees and caused flooding.

Thousands of people are without homes and face a massive rebuild of their lives with their crops also destroyed.
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has announced New Zealand will be making an additional $550,000 immediately available to support relief and early recovery efforts in Samoa, taking the Government's support so far to $600,000.

Funding will be available to respond to official requests, to New Zealand non-government organisations and their partners on the ground, and the Samoa Red Cross, McCully said.

Five additional New Zealand Red Cross workers are travelling to Samoa today to support local Red Cross efforts.  

An RNZAF Orion is continuing to assist the Samoan Government with search and rescue and aerial surveillance activities.

Samoa is still counting the cost of Cyclone Evan, with a feared death toll of up to 16 and a damages bill expected to be around $200 million.

The death toll stands at four and there are still 12 people missing including 10 at sea.

"New Zealand will also consider further requests for assistance from Samoa as they undertake the longer-term reconstruction effort," McCully said.

"Samoa faces a major recovery effort and they will not face it alone."
ONE News Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver, in Apia, told TV ONE's Breakfast the Samoa Parliament opened today with an emotional prayer service remembering those who have died in Cyclone Evan.

Dreaver said Members of Parliament are expected to receive assessments of the damage today.

"And that's so that they can start allocating funds for repairs. We are expecting the bill, the cost of Cyclone Evan to be $200 million plus. And it's growing daily," she said.

"Many people here are still without electricity and more importantly running water, and it could be weeks even months before their lives return to normal."

Red Cross relief

The Action CEO of New Zealand Red Cross in Wellington, Andrew McKie, told Breakfast the organisation has had a man on the ground in Samoa since Saturday and he has been working very closely with the Samoan Red Cross.

"He's been around the affected areas. And the biggest issue at the moment is sorting out the people who've actually lost their houses, people who are staying in shelters because there's electricity and fresh drinking water," McKie said.

One of the biggest issues for the Red Cross is the provision of safe drinking water for all the population around Apia and further afield, he said.

The five extra Red Cross workers heading to Samoa today will be supporting the Samoan Red Cross headquarters, McKie said.

"Many of the staff of Samoan Red Cross were affected as well. And they've been working tirelessly. So we're going over there. We'll provide some management assistance."

Those going are health, logistics, general relief workers and people who worked in Christchurch earthquake welfare centres, he said.

The welfare centre workers will be providing help to Samoan Red Cross which is running the welfare centres there, to make sure they are run efficiently, McKie said.