All Schools Closed, More Rain Expected

The weekend is when the rain is expected to intensify and affect most of Fiji, says Minister for Defence, National Security and Disaster Management Inia Seruiratu.
29 Jan 2021 10:20
All Schools Closed, More Rain Expected
Boats were sheltering at Namara, Labasa, on January 28, 2021.Photo: Shratika Naidu

With a cyclone warning now in force for the Fiji group, more rain is expected in the coming days.

This has prompted the Ministry of Education to announce the closure of all schools in the country today, taking into account the safety and wellbeing of students and teachers.

The weekend is when the rain is expected to intensify and affect most of Fiji, says Minister for Defence, National Security and Disaster Management Inia Seruiratu.

He said the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) had anticipated the bad weather, which had been factored into their planning.

TD05F may become a cyclone today

Fiji Meteorological Services Director Terry Atalifo yesterday confirmed that Tropical Depression TDO5F is expected to move gradually to the Fiji Group and most probably become a cyclone later today.

“We are anticipating Category One and as it moves to the south of Fiji most probably it might attain Category Two cyclones. That is the worst that we are expecting the system to be higher than Category Two,” he said.

“TDO5F, just the east of Vanuatu, hasn’t moved much since yesterday. It is expected to move gradually to the Fiji Group and most probably become a cyclone by midday tomorrow (today) to later today.

“As the system grows close to the group from today to Saturday, it is expected to enter the Fiji Group from the Yasawa Group crosses Viti Levu and moves on to the south. That is the current projection system here.”

Furthermore he said as the system moves over us, weather will get worse from Saturday and Sunday.

“So basically the weekend will get very bad,” he said.

Warnings had been issued for heavy rain warning, gale force warning, flash floods and coastal sea flooding.

The weather office is encouraging people to take heed of these warnings and adhere to the authorities on the ground.

NDMO preparing 

In preparation for the stormy weather, Minister Seruiratu said: “We get updated by the weather office and we have been in touch with all that is happening on the ground.

“We have been advised by the Commissioner Northern that most of the roads in the north are flooded.

“Schools in the north have definitely been advised to stay closed.”

The Ministry of Education has confirmed the same for all schools around the country.

He said so far there had been no word from the Ministry of Education if the schools on Viti Levu were to close.

He said it was up to parents to consider the weather situation in their area and decide what is best for them.

“We are still continuing with recovery and rehab for Cyclone Yasa. Work is ongoing, we have various strategies in place because we know we will have to split resources once something does happen,” Mr Seruiratu said.

There will be a briefing this morning to decide what steps would be taken to keep the general public safe.

3 evacuation centres activated

The National Disaster and Management Officer (NDMO) director Vasiti Soko confirmed that the three evacuation centres were now in place.

Mrs Soko during the press conference said the evacuation centres were operational in Rabi, Dreketi Macuata and Naweni Cakaudrove.

“We urge the public, especially those living in low lying areas, to be cautious and if need for going to the nearest evacuation centres arise, they should call the Police officers on 917 for guidance,” she said.

“Stay away from rivers and streams and exercise caution while using roads. I ask the farmers to take all necessary measures to reduce any risk to life or to their property.

“We request residents in low lying areas to stock food and water and practice good hygiene to avoid leptospirosis dengue and diarrhoea.”

“While prevailing the weather conditions are getting worse, please ensure your emergency kits are ready. Prepare your families and loved ones.”

Crossings, roads closed in Labasa 

Numerous roads and crossings were under water yesterday in Labasa due to adverse weather conditions.

Many people were unable to reach home because they didn’t want to take the risk of crossing flooded roads and crossings.

One of them was Ramesh Chandra, who stood watching over the flooding crossing in Urata, Labasa.

Mr Chandra said he left home at 9am to do shopping in Labasa Town.

“When I returned after two hours the crossing was flooded,” said the retired Fiji Sugar Corporation employee.

“This is always the case whenever there is heavy rain or flash flood warning.”

The 60-year-old grandfather went home at 5pm.

Fiji Roads Authority at 1pm released an update and stated that Dreketilailai Crossing, Kawakawavesi Crossing, Zailav Crossing, Bucalevu Crossing, Nakama Crossing, Waidamudamu Crossing, Qeleimumu Crossing, Qawa Crossing, Moligaiwala Crossing, Nasarava Crossing, Emily Point, Urata Crossing and Nasaqa Crossing were closed to all traffic because they were underwater.

Shipping services suspended till further notice

Interlink Shipping Line Limited, Goundar Shipping Limited and Patterson Brothers Shipping Company Limited – three of the major shipping companies in Fiji – will not be provide shipping services from today until further notice.

Goundar Shipping Limited managing director George Goundar, said the shipping services for Goundar Shipping had ceased operations since Wednesday and would stay that way until some time next week.

Farmers advised on flash flooding, cyclones

The Ministry of Agriculture is advising all farmers to take all the necessary precautions to reduce risk to life and their property.

“Farmers are advised to begin securing their property, stock and life. It is recommended that farmers keep their animals, machineries and farm implements away from flood-prone areas and secure livestock sheds,” said Minister for Agriculture Mahendra Reddy.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

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