People in Tonga's capital Nuku'alofa are beginning to prepare for the worst as Cyclone Gita barrels towards them today, with the possibility of slamming into the island nation as a devastating Category-5 storm late tonight.
1 NEWS Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver is in Nuku'alofa reporting on the preparations being made ahead of the cyclone.
"In downtown Nuku'alofa people are starting to nail down their roofs and many have already started to board up.
"People have sent their staff home now, getting their emergency supplies and making sure their families are safe with Cyclone Gita possibly hitting as a Category-5 later tonight," she says.
Cyclone Gita is currently a Category 4 but is expected to be a Category 5 when it hits Tonga about 7pm today.
Ofa Fa'anunu from the Tonga Meteorological service says Gita will be the strongest cyclone on record to hit the Kingdom.
He is warning the public to go to evacuation centres as soon as possible.
Acting Prime Minister Semisi Sika today signed the state of emergency declaration due to "the destructive force winds and sea rises caused by Tropical Cyclone Gita".
"It is necessary for emergency powers to be exercised in order to prevent or minimise the loss of human life, illness or injury, property loss or damage, and damage to the environment," the declaration read.
The Tongan Community in New Zealand is watching on with anxiety.
"I think the worry is there, and everybody is braced to find out what the cyclone will do," Tongan Advisory Council chair Melino Maka told 1 NEWS.
"If it hits Tongatapu as a Category 5 there will be a lot of damage.
"The last time there was a cyclone, it wasn’t a Category 5 and it did a lot of damage to the shoreline," Mr Maka said.