8 Apr 2020

Fiji slammed by severe TC Harold as damage reported

12:46 pm on 8 April 2020

Tropical Cyclone Harold has damaged homes and caused widespread flooding across Fiji as heavy rain and strong winds hit the country this morning.

Tropical Cyclone Harold slams Fiji

Tropical Cyclone Harold slams Fiji Photo: Fiji Government

At 9am today local time, Harold - now a Category 4 storm - was just west of the main island Viti Levu.

Misa Funaki of the Fiji Meteorological Service said the storm was tracking southeast and was expected to cause more damage.

Funaki said a hurricane-force wind warning remained for Kadavu and southern Lau and a strong wind warning is in force for the rest of the country.

Fiji Meteorology Service's Director Misaeli Funaki

Fiji Meteorology Service's Director Misaeli Funaki Photo: RNZ Pacific

"There have been reports from Yasawa of huge tidal waves there," he said.

"There has been structural damage and mass flooding in some areas.

"But the full brunt of the storm will be felt by Kadavu and southern Lau as forecast."

Funaki said Harold was also felt in Fiji's main centres.

Nadi was without power and Suva and Nausori are being lashed with heavy rain and strong winds..

Several roads had been closed due to flooding and fallen trees, he said.

Funaki said there's flooding in low-lying areas and people had been evacuated.

Reports were still coming in from the smaller outer islands.

With a lockdown in force, residents in Nausori and Tailevu have been calling police for help.

Police were deployed to these areas to respond to reports of homes damaged and people injured.

While police have yet to confirm the situation in Nausori and Tailevu, spokeswoman Ana Naisoro said they continued to receive reports from villagers in Momi and Vusuya.

Funaki said Cyclone Harold was expected to move out over southern Lau tomorrow and head towards Tonga.

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) said it had advised village headmen and community leaders to evacuate their people to safe and higher grounds.

The NDMO said a significant storm surge was expected and would prove dangerous for those living in coastal areas.

It said Cyclone Harold had average winds of up to 195km/hr with gusts to 275km/hr.

"We are urging people living on Kadavu, Vatulele, southern Lau, Ono-i-Lau, from Momi to Pacific Harbour, Beqa, Moala, Matuku, Totoya and Vanuavatu to be prepared for damaging gale force winds," the office said in a statement.

The NDMO said more than 250 evacuation centres had been activated in the western, central and eastern divisions.