Fiji Red Cross volunteers on standby since Tropical Cyclone Zena caused flooding in most parts of Fiji are now conducting assessments and distributing aid to affected settlements.
Heavy rain since Monday caused flash flooding and power cuts in several parts of Fiji, meaning volunteers were unable to reach some villages cut off by floodwaters, though distributions to areas not affected by flooding continued. The water level on many roads around Nadi and Rakiraki has now receded enough for Fiji Red Cross teams to get through.
“We are conducting assessments and distributions today as the weather has cleared up,” says Sagaitu Josaia, Fiji Red Cross Disaster Officer who is currently stationed in Rakiraki. “We are just crossing our fingers the rain stays away, because we are keen to reach the many people who have leaking roofs and inadequate shelter.”
Mr. Josaia says Red Cross teams are distributing solar lanterns, tarpaulins and shelter tool kits.
Most roads in the western division are now open to traffic. “All the western branches are conducting Initial Damage Assessments (IDA) subject to accessibility as access to some communities may still be difficult if the water levels have not receded completely,” says Mohammed Hafiz, Fiji Red Cross Western Divisional Centre Co-ordinator.
An Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) has been set up in Sigatoka and the Director General of Fiji Red Cross Filipe Nainoca is on his way to the branch to provide moral support and see the operation in action.
Fiji Red Cross operations manager Eseroma Ledua says the country was very fortunate to have avoided the full impact of Cyclone Zena, because many communities are still recovering from the effects of Cyclone Winston six weeks ago.
“We have a busy few days ahead. As well as assessing the damage and assisting in areas hit by this week’s floods, we are continuing with our aid for those impacted by TC Winston,” he says. “Our volunteers are well trained and very committed, and we have 300 of them to call on, so I expect them to be able to make a difference to those who are suffering.”
More than 8000 people filled evacuation centres as Cyclone Zena approached, and two deaths have been reported. The Government says all schools will reopen tomorrow and the curfew imposed on Wednesday night has been lifted.