Flash floods in Fiji

  • 20th April 2004
  • 2004
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Floods have left a trail of destruction in Suva, Ra, Naitasiri and Northern Tailevu in the Easter weekend and Navua plus the southern coast of Viti Levu on Thursday the 15 April.

The latest floods affected the Navua town and surrounding areas. The floodwater from Navua River flowed into Navua Town. Muddy water, silt and debris spilled into houses and business property. The patients from Navua hospital were evacuated to Suva Hospital, and about 150 residents were evacuated to near by evacuation centres.

The flood has damaged property, personal belongings and crops. Media reports put the damage bill at around $4 million. The roads and bridges around Viti Levu sustained severe damage. The Public Works Department needs about $ 2 million to repair the damaged infrastructure.

Hundreds of people lost clothes, food items and schoolbooks of their children. There are about 20,000 people who are in dire need of ration. Many have sustained severe damage to their homes and the cleaning will take many days. Displaced farmers from around the country who had settled in Navua will once again have to build their lives from scratch.

Relief has been slow in reaching the victims of flood. The evacuation centres at Navua had no rations even late into the night of the flooding. More than 40 families in Wailoku were affected by the flash floods but no evacuation centres have been set up in the area. The residents had no place to sleep and there was no electricity and water supply in the area.

Media sources have confirmed that the official death toll stands at ten, and a further eleven are reported missing. A Sunbeam Transport Limited bus, which was taken by a landslide into the swollen Wainibuka River, claimed the lives of five people.

The relief assistance system for those affected in a natural disaster is making the Government very unpopular, according to the affected villagers. Wailotua villagers reported that they had been waiting for a government team to visit the village, and officials have told them that assistance would only arrive after the survey by all teams in affected areas. The survey would take about two to three weeks due to the location of some of the villages, and the villagers are in desperate need for food supplies as the silt deposit in their plantations damaged all their crops.

Villagers affected by last Thursdays flood are still without food. Some are accusing DISMAC-the disaster management body of the government of Fiji, for not distributing food rations equally amongst villages in the Tailevu area. Several cases of diarrhoea have been reported in the Wainibuka area, and villagers are complaining that the Ministry of Health has never made any visits since the flood last week. Naqia village is outraged at the Public Works Department for the poor quality of repairs done to the bridge in their area. To date the bridge has broken twice, disrupting water supply to the village.