SUVA, 09 APRIL 2018 (FBC NEWS/RNZ PACIFIC) — Cyclone Keni is expected to be closest to Fiji about midday tomorrow, the Fiji Meteorological Service says.
At 6 am this morning it was about 760 km west northwest of Nadi and was starting to move east southeast about seven to 10 km an hour.
A lead forecaster at the office said the Category 1 storm was expected to become a Category 2 in the next 24 hours and there was a good chance the level could be raised to Category 3.
Last weekend Cyclone Josie killed six people and caused extensive damage.
Continued rain and flooding over the weekend has left two more people dead and one missing.
There are more than 2000 Fijians displaced as result of constant flooding in the Western and Northern Division.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is urging Fijians to be prepared for the wet weather that is anticipated for the country.
During his visit to the Western Division, Bainimarama said that it was a very sad situation as a lot people had nothing left.
“It was really sad, most of the homes have nothing left there, no food, no cooking utensils, and no clothes. Most them have been washed away by the floods,” PM Bainimarama told FBC news
As of midnight, the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) has activated 39 evacuation centres for the West housing 1793 evacuees.
In the Northern division across Labasa and Savusavu, nine evacuation centres have been opened with 267 Fijians displaced.
Residents in Fiji’s sodden western division are now being warned to be prepare for the arrival of yet another cyclone.
“It’s the last thing we need,” said Maciu Bolaitamana, a Red Cross official coordinating aid relief in the western half of Viti Levu, the country’s main island.
Cyclone Josie crossed Fiji last weekend as a category one. It packed a strong punch in the western division, particularly around the towns of Nadi and Ba.
It caused extensive damage to infrastructure and crops, and contaminated water supplies, spilling debris across vast areas, including the centre of the town of Ba.
Bolaitamana said there had been little reprieve from heavy rain since then.
Since Cyclone Josie, aid relief had spread across the affected region. However, Bolaitamana said acute problems remained.
“The greatest need right now on the ground has been water,” he said.
“The last thing we really need right now is the arrival of another tropical cyclone.”
Bolaitamana said with people and infrastructure already struggling, and rivers already swollen, people should stock up on supplies and seek shelter sooner rather than later.
He said evacuation centres were the best place, especially as the Red Cross was considering standing down relief efforts until the latest storm passed.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has closed all schools Fiji wide.
In a statement, the Ministry noted that due to the tropical cyclone alert in force for most areas of the country at the time, as a precautionary measure, all schools in Fiji would be closed for at least the next two days from today, Monday 09 April until Tuesday 10 April 2018.
Schools will be made available as evacuation centres to provide shelter to those affected by severe weather conditions.
The Ministry and disaster officials will continue to monitor the situation and provide regular updates as to when schools can be safely reopened for students and teachers.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) has advise that it’s Lautoka and Labasa Campuses and Pacific TAFE operations in Nadi and Labasa will be closed today and tomorrow.
The decision to open these campuses on Wednesday, 11 April will be announced on Tuesday depending on weather conditions.
The Laucala Campus will remain open today but will be closed on Tuesday with the decision about Wednesday announced on Tuesday after reviewing the weather situation.
Also, all Fiji National University (FNU) campuses will be closed today considering the adverse weather forecast.
FNU advises its students to stay and monitor the situation, they will advise on the University’s operations for Tuesday later today…. PACNEWS
PACNEWS 1: Mon 09 Apr 2018