Government clarifies reasons behind declaring state of emergency during Cyclone Ula

The Tongan government said it has good reasons behind its move to declare Tonga was in a state of emergency during tropical cyclone Ula.

The minimal damage the category three cyclone has caused prompted critics to ask why Pohiva’s government declared a state of emergency.

Paula Ma’u from Tonga’s National Emergency and Management Committee has the explanation.

“We couldn’t do it on Saturday because of strong winds and rough seas, especially here in Tongatapu and Ha’apai, not until Sunday afternoon. But because we have a Sunday law, that’s why we decided to recommend to the Prime Minister to declare a state of emergency in order for us, the workers, to prepare for deployment,” Ma’u told Radio New Zealand International

The state of emergency was lifted yesterday  Tuesday 5.

What is a national state of emergency?

Declaring a national state of emergency is an option when a disaster or other event is or is likely to be of such severity that it is beyond the resources of the local Civil Defence groups.

It provides for national resources to be marshalled to perform emergency functions and tasks such as:

* rescues
* evacuations from dangerous areas and the closing off of buildings, homes and other premises, public places and roads.
* setting up first aid posts
* providing relief such as emergency food, clothing and shelter
* regulating road, air and sea traffic
* undertaking the emergency disposal of bodies

It also allows authorities to requisition any land, building, vehicle, animal, boat, equipment, construction materials, bedding, food and medical supplies considered necessary for the preservation of human life.

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