Friday, 16 January 2009 10:02 AM

Update 2: Flooding in Fiji

As the flooding situation continues in Fiji, help is pouring in from neighbours and authorities are starting the enormous task of assessing the damages left behind by the floodwaters.

Early last week, Fiji's Weather Office warned of strong winds and heavy rain with possible flash floods and the country's National Disaster Management (DISMAC) identified about 782 evacuation centres around the country in preparation for the warnings.
Warnings were also given to the general public regarding going to sea and general traveling and securing buildings.
By Friday last week, flooding had already begun to affect the areas in the West of Fiji's main island, Viti Levu, and continued well into this week.
As of today, flood waters have receded in some of the main areas but, according to Fijilive, the weather office has warned people in Fiji's northern division to 'expect flash flooding in low lying areas', confirming that there was a trough of low pressure lying over the northern and eastern parts of Fiji.

State aid has begun to reach the thousands that are sheltering at evacuation centers, with Fiji Times Online reporting that civil servants and soldiers are giving out rations as part of the distribution that started on Wednesday.
According to the report, DISMAC director, Joeli Cawaki, said that 'health officials had given DISMAC a food scale for adults and children' and that they "have started giving out the rations in the Western, Northern and Central divisions", adding that, "Soldiers have also been on the ground managing the various evacuation centres around the country."
'He said DISMAC and government machinery were trying to provide relief to as many people as possible' and that, at the moment they are at the "assessment and relief stage" with rehabilitation stages to follow "once we get the true cost of damages which is sometimes next week".

Meanwhile, help has come in from neighbours in the region with Tonga donating $100,000 for relief assistance as well as New Zealand and the US has also put forward $89,000. Australia has also offered aid as well as China, all country heads sending their sympathies.
Organisations in these countries are also doing their own fundraising to go towards aid for the victims of the floods.
Within Fiji itself, the flood appeal which is a 'joint initiative by the ANZ Bank and Fiji Times Limited' has so far raised '$18,178.38 at the end of its third day yesterday', according to Fiji Times Online.
Organisations within the country such as Red Cross, Rotary, Salvation Army and even some hotels and resorts are also hard at work providing shelter and necessary materials as well as food and fundraising .

The death toll has risen to 11 following the death of a 4 year-old who fell into the floodwaters yesterday and there are fears the number could rise as a lot of areas are still underwater and there is also the emerging threat of diseases. And people are being warned to remain cautious when traveling and not to take unnecessary risks.
A total of about 9000 are sheltering at evacuation centres around the country.

A strong wind warning still remains for the country with the Nadi Weather Office saying that 'more flooding is expected in the northern parts of the country, particularly Labasa and Taveuni', according to Fijilive.

The Account number for donations to the Fiji Flood Appeal is: 10087832 at any Fiji ANZ Bank.

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