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Editorial: Let’s be grateful to those who kept us safe during TC Keni

Editorial: Let’s be grateful to those who kept us safe during TC Keni
A Police officer trying to control traffic movement in Lami Town on April 10, 2018. Photo: Ronald Kumar
April 12
11:40 2018

Today we salute a very special group of people who put the national interest first before their personal interests.

They were out there in disaster prone areas ensuring that victims got the help they needed immediately. They left behind their families to stand by for the call for help. Some were recalled from leave to join the ready response group, which we agree, has done an amazing job. They form the nucleus of the team that contributed to a casualty-free TC Keni.

The Police, Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Corrections and the National Fire Authority, doctors and nurses, civil servants, municipal workers and the army of volunteers must be recognised for their sterling performance.

Working in the external environment during extreme flooding and torrential rain and/or a tropical cyclone is not for the fainthearted. But these loyal and compassionate men and women braved the risks and elements to perform their duties.

We know many of them have gone beyond the call of duty to save people in distress. In Ba two pregnant women were rescued from floodwaters during TC Josie and later gave birth to healthy babies. The risks were high and the rescuers put their lives in danger. But when the mission was accomplished it brought joy to everyone around.

No doubt there are other positive stories that have not been told.

One that has been told is that there was no casualty during TC Keni.

This has been attributed to our high-readiness status although some continued to defy the warnings.

The leadership of the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) in co-ordinating disaster preparedness and relief efforts must be commended.

The public awareness was high. No one can turn around and say they were not sufficiently warned. Of course we have the usual skeptics who have nothing good to say but criticise.

The statistics, however, tell us the level of preparation.

When TC Keni was approaching the Western Division had a total of 82 evacuation centres opened with 5288 evacuees sheltered. In the Northern Division there were 18 centres with 723 evacuees. The Eastern Division had nine centres with 439 evacuees. The Central Division had 10 centres with 304 evacuees. Total evacuees in 119 centres – 6754.

A total of 95 schools were used as evacuation centres.

In some squatter settlements in the Central Division, the Police had to knock on doors to inform the families to move to evacuation centres.

More than 90 soldiers were deployed from Suva to help in the clean-up and the distribution of food.

As we move into clean-up phase and rehabilitation, it is important to remember those who worked around the clock to keep us safe. We should also thank God for sparing us the agony of losing a loved one during TC Keni.

From this perspective, TC Keni was better than TC Josie which claimed several lives.

Maika Bolatiki


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