20 Dec 2016

Stranded islanders running out of food in Fiji floods

10:40 pm on 20 December 2016

About 1000 villagers stranded on their island in Fiji's Rewa River delta say they are running out of food after six days of constant rain and rising floodwaters.

Flooding in Fiji dec 2016

About 1000 people from Muana in Fiji's Rewa River delta say they are running out of food and supplies after six days of heavy rain Photo: Supplied / Bale Bulimaivale

They said the river water had flooded homes, crops were under water and they have no means to get to their jobs in nearby Nausori and Suva.

A tropical depression has hovered around the country since late last week, but is now slowly moving away.

Bale Bulimaivale of Muana Village on Toga Island said the community was running out of food and sanitary supplies.

"People are worried because they might lose their job, their security and their safety. The livestock, people's lives are all in danger because the water levels continues to rise. It has not receded yet."

Flooding throughout Fiji has damaged hundreds of homes after a tropical depression brought heavy rain to much of the country. Dec 2016

Photo: Supplied / Bale Sawana

The three villages on Toga Island are connected to the mainland via a culvert which is now flooded, and there is no boat to get out.

"It's been hard for us. The main crops like cassava and yam are under water."

She said the villagers were managing with the few basic items they have.

"We were caught off guard and now we don't have any transport to buy food."

The villagers could move to the double-storey village hall, but were busy securing their homes and livestock, Mrs Bulimaivale said.

She had not heard of any help coming yet but she said she thought they could hold out for another three days.

Assessment teams were deployed across Fiji to ascertain the extent of damage and the government urged people along the banks of the Rewa River to move to higher ground.

The National Disaster Management Office's Akapusi Tuifagalele said until the weather cleared, it was still too early to ascertain the full extent of damage.

"But by looking at things it seems that, you know, we are not as bad as what has happened during Winston or any other disaster where it cost us millions of dollars, but it's more of a wait and see."

Landslide in Veisari which is currently blocking Queens Highway.

A landslide in Veisari is currently blocking Queens Highway. Photo: Inosi Kania/Fiji village

The flooding and landslides caused extensive damage to infrastructure and crops, particularly in the northern and central areas and parts of the western divisions.

The worst-affected towns were Nausori, Rakiraki, Ba, and the northern island of Qamea, where a slip hit houses, a school and a health centre.

On Viti Levu, parts of the main Kings and Queens roads were closed, and power and water supplies had been affected in some areas.

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