Tropical Cyclone "Josie" claims 4 lives in Fiji

Tropical Cyclone

Heavy rain and strong winds brought by Tropical Cyclone "Josie," which was upgraded to a Category 1 cyclone on March 31 - April 1 as it passed south of the archipelago, had caused major flooding in parts of Fiji as of April 1. While Josie was a relatively weak category 1 cyclone when it passed to the country's southwest over the weekend, it brought heavy flooding to the main island of Viti Levu. At least four people have reportedly been killed by the storm, with one death reported in Ba district, one in Lautoka, and two more in Uciwai (Nadi); one person remains missing in Sabeto (Nadi). On April 2, the storm was moving south of Fiji in an east-southeast direction toward Australia's eastern coast, but heavy rain and flooding are still affecting the country. 

According to the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (FBC), authorities have urged people to take precautions after four people were confirmed dead in the floodwaters. More than 70 roads were closed because of the cyclone, and the power supply was also hit. The Fiji Roads Authority (FRA) said 40 roads were closed in the Western Division, 27 in the Central Division, and seven in the Northern Division.

"Some roads have reopened in flood-affected parts in the Western Division as water levels continue to slowly recede," FRA said. 

"The FRA is closely monitoring the situation of the roads and we are urging the public to remain vigilant, tune into the local radio and listen to the advice of the emergency services," according to New Zealand's Stuff news.

TC Josie JTWC forecast track on April 2, 2018

Floodwaters had damaged pipelines and pump stations, and there had been unplanned power disruptions, the Water Authority of Fiji said on their website.

The Fiji Electricity Authority that people in the Ba district were without power.

35 evacuation centers had been activated across Viti Levu island in Nadi, Lautoka, and Nadroga, which can hold approximately 2000 evacuees, according to National Disaster Management Office.

Ba, in the north of the main island, was one of the worst-hit areas. Local Ba resident Naziah Ali said the community was shocked by the speed and damage of the floodwaters.

"It was raining quite a lot for a number of days before the floods hit yesterday … so we were kind of aware that the floodwaters might come, but we did not know how quickly it would come," Ms. Ali told, according to ABC News.

Cyclone Winston devastated Fiji in 2016, a category five storm that killed more than 40 people and destroyed thousands of homes.

"I think we're almost constantly in recovery mode, always trying to rebuild ourselves," Ms. Ali said.

"During Winston, we had strong winds but less rain, but this time basically we had little wind but a lot of rainfall," President of the Ba Mission Hospital and local businessman Jay Dayal said, according to ABC news.

Tafazul Akhtar had been in Nadi for a week and said the rain burst the banks of rivers in the town.

"There wasn't much damage by the wind itself, but there is substantial damage to crops, to animals, livestock, the roads are still flooded … it's going to be a really touchy couple of weeks," he said, according to ABC news.

Josie is the 5th named storm of the 2017/18 South Pacific tropical cyclone season.

Featured image: Fiji floods 2018

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