Torrential rains aggravate situation in areas still affected by Tropical Cyclone "Harold" in Fiji

Torrential rains aggravate situation in areas still affected by Tropical Cyclone

Torrential rains affecting Fiji since April 27, 2020, triggered widespread flooding and landslides in areas still affected by Tropical Cyclone "Harold." The country's disaster management office (NDMO) issued warnings on April 29, urging residents to evacuate amid the worsening condition brought by the severe weather.

Warnings have been issued, particularly along rivers in the Central Division. Roads were closed from Nabukaluka Delailasakau to Waisomo Crossing; from Vatulili Road to Waidradra Crossing; Navulokani Road to Waiwatu and Waisa Crossing; and Savu Road to Muaniweni flats near Shat-Nkatan Primary School.

Strong wind and rough sea alerts remain in place for Southern Lau, Southern Koro, and Kadavu. Flood warnings are in force for Waidina, Wainibuka, Wainimala River, Naboutini Flats to Navua, low-lying areas between Veisari and Lami Town, and low-lying flood-prone areas between Suva, Nausori, and Korovou Town

Nausori recorded more than 200 mm (9 inches)-- almost reaching the town's average rainfall for the month of April, which is 363 mm (14 inches). NDMO reported major flooding in some areas.

Flooding and landslides blocked roads in parts of Navua and the capital Suva. Fiji Roads Authority advised the public to avoid crossing inundated roads and bridges.

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said it was unfortunate that another bout of heavy rains came on the heels of Tropical Cyclone "Harold" -- which left a trail of destruction across the country on April 8. 

"If you feel unsafe where you are, move to an evacuation center. These centers will be run and maintained in the same safe and hygienic fashion we saw during Cyclone Harold."

"Following Cyclone Harold, our soil is already saturated and unstable, making the risk of landslides extremely high. Do not congregate or seek shelter in buildings beneath steeply sloped areas," the PM warned.

He reminded citizens to avoid swimming in rivers or streams, even crossing the rapids as children, in particular, drown in these conditions. "These aren't the same waters you're used to crossing, so don't treat them the same way you do on any ordinary day. They are unpredictable, they can carry heavy debris and they are deadly. So be prepared."

The country is not facing another cyclone, Bainimarama clarified, but he warned that heavy rains could still lead to life-threatening floods.

Disaster authorities had just completed the first phase of operations in response to Harold. "With these rains upon us, there will be no rest of the weary - our frontline disaster response teams will be closely monitoring the movements of the general public and providing vital information to Fijians in heavily impacted areas."

The rains were brought by a slow-moving trough of low pressure, said the Fiji Meteorological Service. Director Misaeli Funaki added that rains are expected to continue over the eastern and inner parts of Viti Levu, Vanua Levu and Taveuni and its nearby islands, Lau and Lomaiviti group, Kadavu, Vatulele, and Beqa.

Featured image credit: NDMO

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