Floods Force Evacuations in Fiji

Twenty two evacuation centers have been set up in Fiji as a result of the storms, heavy rain and flooding currently affecting parts of the country.

Heavy rain has affected parts of the Pacific island nation of Fiji during the last few days, with 57mm (2”) observed in Rakiraki on the north coast of Viti Levu Island and 91mm (3.5”) in Nausori in the southeast of the island on Tuesday 25 February. The rain is due to a Tropical Depression (TD14F) located south of Vanua Levu island and forecast to move slowly in an east-north-easterly direction.

There were reports of flooding of low-lying areas in and around Rakiraki on Wednesday 26 February, causing authorities to close off a number of roads in the central/eastern division and the western division due to flash flooding. Several bridges have been partly washed away and schools have been clossed. Police report about four feet (1.3m) of water on both sides of Rakirai town.

A three-year-old girl drowned in a creek near a village in Rakiraki while playing outside the Vatusekiyasawa village community hall yesterday afternoon. Police have advised parents to keep their children away from drains and waterways during the rainy weather because of the likelihood of flash floods.

A flood alert has been issued for low-lying areas near the Wainibuka river in Tailevu on Viti Levu island, as well as for areas downstream of Nayavu Station. The river level at Nayavu station on Wednesday morning was at 5.31m (17’3”), 0.31m (1ft) above the alert level.

A heavy rain warning is also in force for land areas in Yasawa, Mamanuca groups, Kadavu and nearby smaller islands with the western half of Viti Levu. The government has urged Fijians to assist members of their communities, and especially the elderly.

Flooded home in the Sawani area
Flooded home in the Sawani area

Fiji Meteorology expects another Tropical Depression (christened TD15F) to develop into a Category One Tropical Cyclone by the weekend, after moving southwards between Viti Levu and the Mamanuca Group, then moving northward again and intensifying. The Director of the Disaster Management Centre (DISMAC), Manasa Tagicakibau, issued an alert to all registered evacuation centres to be on standby should the need arise. “At this stage we have activated a team on standby at our office to monitor the weather situation in co-ordination with the Fiji MET to monitor the tropical depression moving closer to the group,” Tagicakibau said.

He advised people living in flood-prone areas to move to higher ground, and also advised the public to clear waterways and blocked drains, as blockages exacerbate localised flooding.

Floodeed roads in Fiji
Flooded roads in Fiji

Fiji experienced minor flooding at the end of January 2014, but in March/April 2012 suffered severe flooding in which Typhoon Daphne lashed the islands causing 5 deaths, displacing over 11,000 people and leaving nearly 3,000 tourists stranded.

Sources: Fiji Live; FBC;

Photos: Fiji Government