13 Apr 2020

Fiji declares State of Natural Disaster after Cyclone Harold

5:08 pm on 13 April 2020

Fiji's government has declared a State of Natural Disaster in areas affected by last week's Cyclone Harold.

The Disaster Management Minister, Jone Usamate, made the announcement this afternoon, saying it would enable the government to exercise certain powers to deal with the aftermath of the category four storm which killed at least one person and damaged homes and crops across the country.

Disaster Management Minister, Jone Usamate

Disaster Management Minister, Jone Usamate Photo: Fiji Govt

Mr Usamate said the declaration was for certain parts of the Eastern, Central and Western Divisions of the country.

In the Eastern Division it was for Kadavu and the Southern Lau group, which were particularly hard hit.

In the Central Division the areas included Tailevu North, Korovou, Nausori, Nakasi, Beqa and Yanuca.

For the Western division, the declaration has been made for the districts of Nadarivatu, Vatulele, Mamanuca Group, the Yasawa Group, coastal communities in the Coral Coast and along the Sigatoka River in the Nadroga/Navosa province.

Four government boats were being sent out with assessment teams, aid and food.

Mr Usamate confirmed the distribution of food supplies had begun in the Central Division, and would begin in the Western Division on Tuesday, while personnel were being deployed to the Eastern Division.

He also thanked the governments of New Zealand and Australia for their assistance at this time.

The minister said assessments were still being completed but the Northern Division had been cleared and the priority for that region was now on minimising the spread of Covid-19, of which the country had 16 cases.

Mr Usamate said it was a challenge to deal simultaneously with the cyclone aftermath and the coronavirus.

But he insisted Covid-19 protocols were being adhered to in evacuation centres across the country, of which 66 were still open.

As of this morning 1800 people were still in the centres.

The government said although final assessments were still pending, the cost of the damage to property and crops from the cyclone would run into the millions of dollars.

The State of Natural Disaster will last for 30 days

Cyclone Harold wrecked villages on some of Fiji's southern islands

Cyclone Harold wrecked villages on some of Fiji's southern islands Photo: FIJI NDMO