Suva / Kuala Lumpur / Geneva, 13 February 2018 – Red Cross volunteers and staff are on high alert as Tropical Storm Gita barrels towards Fiji, having already caused floods in Samoa and destruction in Tonga.

Fiji Red Cross has emergency response teams on standby as Gita is expected to track through the southern Lau group of islands later tonight.

Fiji Red Cross is well prepared, and ready to respond quickly. Tropical cyclones are an annual threat in this region. We know how devastating they can be. We have been getting ready for the past 12 months,” said Kathryn Clarkson, the Head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Pacific team.

This investment in preparedness paid off in Samoa and Tonga, said Clarkson.

In Samoa, we saw a rapid and effective response to the weekend’s widespread floods, high winds and power cuts. People knew where to evacuate to, and the Red Cross swung into action, helping people forced to stay the night in shelters with pre-positioned stocks of blankets and clothes,” said Clarkson.

When the waters receded, Samoa Red Cross volunteers went door-to-door checking on people. Tonight, families are home again and the big clean-up continues.”

In Tonga, thousands of people sought shelter in evacuation centres ahead of Gita’s arrival earlier today as a Category 4 Cyclone. The storm caused extensive damage throughout the country. Red Cross teams in Tonga have already started assessing damage and needs, including in remote areas.

Aid supplies have been pre-positioned across Tonga’s Islands in the lead up to the Cyclone season. These supplies, stored in shipping containers, mean that Red Cross volunteers have already started following their assessments with distributions.

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