3 Apr 2018

Clean-up underway in Fiji following Cyclone Josie

1:53 pm on 3 April 2018

Fiji's clean-up efforts are focusing on the district of Ba today, one of the areas worst affected by flooding from Cyclone Josie.

Tropical Cyclone Josie causes major flooding in Fiji's Ba

Tropical Cyclone Josie causes major flooding in Fiji's Ba Photo: Fiji Village

Four people died and one person is still missing after the cyclone brought severe weather to Fiji as a Category 1 storm over the weekend.

The National Disaster Management Office's Anare Leweniqila said the Ba River overflowed during high tide causing major flooding to the area which is known for its sugar cane production.

He said water and power were still being restored to areas and most roads had reopened apart from a few that suffered major damage.

He said there was still a lot of debris to clear.

"We are just advising the public to be patient and for people to start working on the clean up of their own homes and ensure proper disposal of waste and also we are flying food rations to people in affected areas and government (is) working on that," Mr Leweniqila said.

He said the body of a 19 year old who was washed away was yet to be recovered, and the death toll remained at four.

Fiji police retrieved four bodies over the weekend.

Evacuation centres in the Western Division are sheltering 1041 evacuees and schools are also being cleaned up after the education ministry declared schools in Ba, Rakiraki, Tavua and Nadi closed for at least two days.

The damage caused by Cyclone Josie.

The damage caused by Cyclone Josie. Photo: Facebook/ Fiji Government

Strong winds and heavy rain associated with the Josie caused the major flooding in parts of the country.

The Fiji government said all schools in the Ba, Rakiraki, Tavua, and Nadi areas would be closed while officials carried out full damage assessments.

Clean-up efforts were underway in the worst affected areas.

Schools in Lautoka will be open but the government advised parents to wait until flood waters had fully receded in their areas before sending their children to school.

The statement also said the Ministry of Education would continue to provide regular updates on the status of affected schools.

Meanwhile, all 134 passengers of the MV Spirit of Altruism have been safely transferred to Natovi overnight.

The ship hit a reef amid engine problems and was stuck just past Levuka during the storm.

The owner of the ship confirmed that a salvaging operation was underway.

Weather warnings still in place

Josie is now an Ex-Tropical Cyclone and, but a gale warning remains in place for Ono-I-Lau.

A strong wind warning and heavy rain warning are also still in place for the whole of Fiji.

Ex-Tropical Cyclone Josie was 310 km south of Kadavu and 290 kilometres west-southwest of Ono-I-Lau at 6am.

It is expected to have average winds up to 55 km/hr with momentary gusts to 85 km/hr and is moving south-southeast at about 8 km/hr.

Fiji's Meteorological Service warned of damaging gale force winds with average speed of 65 km/hr and momentary gusts to 90 km/hr for Ono-I-Lau.

Winds are then expected to ease to an average speed of 50km/hr with gusts to 70km/hr by midday today.

People in Ono-I-Lau were being warned to expect damaging heavy swells, periods of rain, heavy at times and squally thunderstorms.

Sea flooding in low-lying areas was also possible.

While the rest of Southern Lau group was warned to expect strong northerly winds with average speed of 50km/hr with momentary gusts to 75km/hr, easing to moderate to fresh, gusty at times by midday today.

The group will also experience occasional rain, heavy at times and few thunderstorms, with rain becoming heavy and frequent from tomorrow, according to the Fiji Meteorological Service.

The Service also warned that localised heavy falls may lead to flooding of low-lying areas.

On its current track, Ex-tropical Cyclone Josie's centre is expected to be located about 470km south-southeast of Kadavu at 6pm, and about 390 km south-southwest of Ono-I-Lau at 6am tomorrow.

Cyclone Josie damage

Photo: Facebook/ Fiji Village

Evacuation centres operational

Fiji's National Disaster Management Office said 35 evacuation centres in the Western division have been operational since last night.

The Office's Anare Leweniqila said a total of 1070 people were currently in these evacuation centres and the numbers are expected to increase.

FBC News said police personnel had been instructed to maintain a presence at evacuation centres for the security of all Fijians.

Mr Leweniqila said the Minister for Rural Development Inia Seruiratu would be visiting and also assessing some of the affected areas.

"We expect to mobilise clean up teams today once the weather improves. Once the commissioner western identifies the areas, we will deploy a team to support in the clean-up."

As of last night, evacuation centres that were activated in the Western division included: Lovu Sangam School, Lautoka Primary School, Tavarau Primary School, Tuvu Primary School, Drasa Muslim Primary School, Gandhi Bhawan Primary School, Deshbandu Primary School, Taiperia Evacuation Center, Dratabu Community Hall, Saint Andrews Primary School, Nadi Technical College, Nawaka District School, Narata Village Community Hall, Semo Village Community Hall and Church, Nasivikoso, Wauosi, Nukuilau Community Hall and Church.

Residents of Yalalevu talk to Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama following the flood.

Residents of Yalalevu talk to Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama following the flood. Photo: Facebook/ Fiji Government

Bainimarama visits cyclone-hit areas

Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has led a team of officials to the areas that were hit by Cyclone Josie.

The group travelled to parts of Ba and Rakiraki that were affected by torrential rain and flooding caused over the weekend.

Mr Bainimarama spoke with locals and commended the communities for their resilience and bravery as many had lost their homes, belongings and some even their loved ones.

As part of his tour Prime Minister Bainimarama also visited Xavier College in Ba that was flooded during the cyclone.

Mr Bainimarama reassured Fijians living in this affected areas that they will be able to access funds from the Fiji National Provident Fund.

Xavier College

Xavier College Photo: Facebook/ Fiji Government

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