Fiji: Floods OCHA Situation Report No. 1

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 13 Jan 2009
Highlights

- Heavy rains have caused severe flooding in the North, Central and Western Divisions of Fiji since 8 January.

- A 30-day state of natural disaster was declared in the Western Division on 11 January.

- 6,591 people were recorded as being evacuated and housed in 110 Evacuation Centres as of 11 am on Tuesday 13 January

- 7 Deaths have been recorded as a direct result of the floods.

- The Fiji Interim Government has not requested international assistance, but reviews assessment information tomorrow 14 January.

- Another tropical depression is expected to bring more rainfall by Wednesday night and Thursday, which may extend and compound the current situation.

Situation Overview

Heavy rain resulting from a tropical depression and falling mainly from 7 to 10 January has caused severe flooding in the North, Central and Western Divisions of Fiji. The affected areas include the major towns of Nadi, Ba, and Labasa. Emergency Operations Centres have been activated in all three Divisions and the Western Division has had a state of natural disaster declared.

A break in the rain for the Western and Central Districts on 11 January has allowed floodwaters to recede in some areas. However, the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) reports that numerous low lying villages and communities remain under water. Further, rain in the Western Division on 12 and 13 January, combined with spring tides, has caused waters to rise again in that region. The Fiji Meteorological Service forecasts that between now and midnight Wednesday 14 January, there will be periods of heavy rain for Labasa (Northern division on the island of Vanua Levu), and Nadi, Lautoka and Ba (Western Division on the main island of Viti Levu), and some rain and thunderstorms for Navua and Nausori (Central division). This rain is expected to compound the flooding that has already taken place and further flash flooding is a risk.

According the NDMO, throughout Fiji a total of 6,591 people were recorded as being evacuated and housed in 110 Evacuation Centres as of 11 am on Tuesday 13 January.

There have been 7 reported deaths due to drowning (4) and landslides (3): four males and three females of which 4 children that can be directly attributed to the rainfall and flooding. A further death (adult male) has been recorded in the form of a road accident which appears to have been caused by poor visibility as a result of the heavy rain.

As of 8 AM on 13 January the NDMO reported that the water levels in all big rivers were back to normal, but by the end of the day water levels were rising again due to continued rainfall. The northern highway (Kings road) is still closed at Wailotua. Nausori Airport was also left without electricity. At a briefing of international partners on Tuesday 13 January the NDMO reported that with the old bridge that was washed away at Sigatoka, also the attached water and sewerage pipes were destroyed. Nadi and Ba also lack water supply and electricity supply. Government agencies are working around he clock to restore services and supply.

Humanitarian Response

The government has activated its disaster response mechanism and the response activities are coordinated both at the district level and national level. Initial damage assessment has been conducted and is still ongoing in affected areas in order to provide a full overview of the damage caused by the floods. 110 evacuation centres have been established by the government in the affected areas and the division authorities are distributing food parcels to the 6,591 people using the centres. Work to repair roads damaged by floods and landslides is also being undertaken. Water trucks are directed Suva and other towns to Sigatoka and Ba to deliver water by truck to affected people. Restoring power and water supply to hospitals in Nadi, Lautoka and Ba has been listed as a priority.

The Fiji Red Cross Society's Situation Report 2 - Fiji Floods, states that FRCS have deployed relief teams to conduct assessment as well as distributing basic non food items including containers for drinking water, black packs, temporary shelter equipment, cooking sets and blankets to affected communities along the Rewa river. The Fiji Red Cross Society has also provided 100 x 20L clean drinking water containers to five flooded villages and evacuation centres located near the Rewa river.

St John's Ambulance visited two Evacuation Centres in the Rewa Delta area and evacuated one elderly woman for treatment before returning her to the shelter and treating another woman on site for a septic wound.

Save the Children Fiji is conducting assessments on education related needs of affected populations, particularly children and the damage to schools.

Both the NDMO and the Fiji Red Cross Society continue to conduct damage and needs assessment although they are being hampered by access in some areas.

A number of international organizations, including UN and ADB, have offered assistance to the government to participate in multi-sector rapid and in-depth assessments should this be required.

Water & Sanitation

Water shortage in Ba is a serious concern because the main dam and pipeline were affected by the flood. Water tanks are going to be dispatched to Ba to relieve the water shortage problem. Water shortage in Nadi especially in the hospital are also reported from Western Division. Restoration of water and electricity supplies at the hospitals are priority for the government response.

Health

Fiji Red Cross points out that contamination of community water source could increase water born diseases. This was also the main reason for the Western Division to declare a state of natural disaster. Specific health assessment will need to be undertaken in order to understand the health risks and health needs of affected population as a whole including both evacuees and non evacuees.

Map - Fiji: Floods (as of 12 January 2009)

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