Adverse weather, heavy rain warning force school closures
The National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) is urging people to refrain from using flooded crossings as a heavy rain warning remains in place for the Fiji Group. Picture: FIJI RED CROSS SOCIETY
By JOELI BILI
All primary and secondary schools around the country remained closed today as the National Disaster Management Office and the Ministry of Education continue to monitor the adverse weather and heavy rain warning in place for the Fiji Group.
Minister for Education Aseri Radrodro urged parents and guardians to keep a close watch on their children during this time and refrain from allowing them to play or swim in flooded rivers and creeks.
He said a media alert would be released in consultation with the NDMO to open schools once the weather clears.
“All parents and guardians are advised to keep following the weather news issued in the media. Teachers and students are advised to stay home and keep themselves safe,” he said.
Tertiary institutions including The University of the South Pacific were also forced to close campuses in Nadi, Lautoka, Labasa and Savusavu until further notice.
USP’s Disaster Management (DISMAC) team urged staff and students to be vigilant of their surrounding conditions, particularly those residing in flood-prone areas.
Fiji National University campuses around the country were also closed as acting vice-chancellor Professor Unaisi Nabobo-Baba advised that their emergency response team had been activated and were on standby to attend to any incidents or emergency matters that may arise during the course of the closure of FNU campuses.
According to the Fiji Meteorological Service in Nadi, an active trough of low pressure with cloud and rain associated with Severe Tropical Cyclone Kevin continued to affect the group.
“Severe TC Kevin weakened to a category 4 system around 6am yesterday while located to the far south of Fiji. Severe TC Kevin is gradually moving east-southeast and has exited the Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre (RSMC) Nadi Area of Responsibility (AoR) yesterday with warning responsibilities handed over to the New Zealand Meteorological Service.
“Rain is expected to pick up over the Central Division including northern Viti Levu (Tavua-Rakiraki) tonight, thus the risk of flash floods increases over these areas. However, it is expected to gradually ease over the rest of Western Division from tonight. The heaviest rain from this system is expected from this afternoon to tomorrow morning.”
The weather office said the risk of flash flooding remained for low lying areas, small streams and flood prone areas in the Western Division.
“There is also risk of coastal inundation over the coastal areas of Yasawa and Mamanuca groups, Coral Coast, Beqa, Vatulele, Kadavu and Southern Lau group. Hazardous breaking waves, strong currents are risky for swimming, fishing and other recreational sea activities. Sea conditions can also be dangerous especially for small sea crafts as it can capsize due to large waves and rough seas,” the weather office said.
Meanwhile, the Fiji Roads Authority are also calling on members of the public to refrain from using flooded roads or low-level crossings.
The National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) has called on those who need assistance moving to higher grounds to contact the National Fire Authority on 910 or the Fiji Police Force 917.
Information on Evacuation Centres can be found on the NDMO website.
Joeli Bili is a final-year journalism student at The University of the South Pacific. He is a reporter for Wansolwara, USP Journalism’s training newspaper and online publication.