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Tonga braces for Cyclone Gita

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    Chief Warrant Officer James Gardner, a senior marine inspector at Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment American Samoa, conducted a visual post-storm assessment of Pago Pago’s port today.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand >> Some people in Tonga are nailing pieces of wood over their windows while others are evacuating as they brace for a cyclone that is due to hit Monday night.

The Pacific island nation of 105,000 has declared a state of emergency in anticipation of Cyclone Gita. Weather experts say Gita is packing sustained winds of 121 miles per hour and is expected to intensify before making landfall.

The storm has strengthened since hitting Samoa and American Samoa last week, where it caused damage to buildings, widespread power outages and flooding.

President Donald Trump today declared an emergency in American Samoa, a U.S. territory. The declaration allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide equipment and resources.

The Coast Guard Captain of the Port reopened the port of Pago Pago to commercial traffic today in Ameircan Samoa.

“I really appreciate the exceptional effort of our port partners in American Samoa during this difficult time,” said Capt. Mike Long, Coast Guard Captain of the Port, said in a release. “Reopening the port is a vital step in the reconstitution of the maritime transportation system in American Samoa and allows for the free flow of commerce to the island.”

A Coast Guard HC-130 airplane crew, Coast Guard response personnel and a FEMA representative arrived Saturday from Air Station Barbers Point to conduct an aerial post-storm assessment.

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