Floods in Fiji – One Dead, One Missing

Major flooding in Fiji over the weekend resulted in the death of one man, with another still missing, as well as damage to roads and a water treatment plant.

One man was swept away while crossing a river in Viti Levu, Fiji’s largest island. His body was retrieved on Sunday 07 December 2014. In a separate incident, another man is missing after being dragged away by flood water in similar circumstances, also in Viti Levu. The search continues,although hopes that the man is still alive remain slim.

floods fiji
Damaged roads after floods in Fiji, December 2014. Photo: Government of Fiji

280 mm of Rain in 24 Hours

December marks the beginning of the wet season in Fiji (usually around November to March). Even so, the amount of rainfall seen over the last few days has been particularly intense in isolated pockets.

The heavy rain was brought by slow-moving trough of low pressure just to the north of Fiji. According to WMO, Vanua Balavu in Fiji saw 280 mm of rain fall in 24 hours between 07 and 08 December 2014. Locals reported 177 mm of rain in Suva in just 7 hours early on Saturday 06 December.

According to Fiji’s Met Office, flood warnings were still in force yesterday for low-lying areas downstream of Navolau Station, low-lying areas downstream of Waimanu Station and low-lying areas downstream of Nairukuruku Station.

Damaged roads after floods in Fiji, December 2014. Photo: Government of Fiji
Damaged roads after floods in Fiji, December 2014. Photo: Government of Fiji

Samoa and Tonga are also likely to see heavy rainfall over the coming days.

Warnings Ignored

FBC reported that many people were not heeding flood or severe weather warnings.

The Director for Fiji’s Disaster Management Committee (DISMAC) Manasa Tagicakibau said that people don’t pay attention to alerts issued by DISMAC and more awareness about natural disasters is needed, especially in the central division of the country.

Water Treatment Plant Damaged

The heavy rain and flooding badly damaged the Tamavua Water Treatment Plant, affecting water supplies to thousands of people in central Suva.

The Water Authority of Fiji also said the main trunk line carrying untreated waste from greater Suva collapsed and sewage spilt into a creek which flows through several villages.

Fiji suffered from severe floods in February and March this year.