5 Apr 2012

It will be some time before evacuees can return home - Red Cross Fiji

4:44 am on 5 April 2012

The Red Cross in Fiji says it expects evacuees will have to wait some time before they can return to their homes.

Fiji's Permanent Secretary Disaster Management says 14,000 people are now staying in 180 evacuation centres around the country.

The Ministry of Information says the numbers in the centres are expected to drop substantially over the weekend as people return to their homes.

But the acting director-general of Fiji's Red Cross, Christopher Ho, says with the grounds completely saturated, just a slight change in weather will trigger more flooding.

"If it actually rains again and their place is under water, they still need to be housed there (evac. centres). Also there is the health issue with the flood waters. Compounding that in some cases if you have flood waters and houses submerged, then you've got a potential safety issue regarding electricity. I think it will take some time, I think the authorities are going through even house by house in Nadi looking at electrical circuitry and switches before people can actually move back in."

Christopher Ho says even with sunshine, it will take a couple of days for the mud to dry up before people can move to their homes.

Save The Children Fiji says it will be providing hot lunches at schools to ensure that children affected by flooding can continue to go to class.

The Chief executive of Save the Children Fiji, Chandra Shekhar, says it's a tough time for the country, as it was still recovering from major flooding in January.

He says they expect to be providing lunch and stationery needs for about five thousand children affected by the floods.

If there's hot meals at school then the parents don't have to worry about the children's meal and send the children to school. Alongside it the children have been again provided stationery they need for study, that'll also bring the children back to school and remove two major burdens from the shoulders of the parents who can then concentrate to rehabilitate their homes and gardens.

Chandra Shekhar says lunch at school will also have a positive effect on the children's studies and learning productivity.