Fiji: Tropical Cyclone Sarai - DREF Operation n° MDRFJ003, Operation update n° 1

Situation Report
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Description of the disaster

A Tropical Disturbance TD03F was upgraded to a tropical cyclone on 24 December 2019 and developed into a category 1 cyclone (TC Sarai) on its pathway down the Western coastline of the main island of Viti Levu in Fiji heading in a south south-easterly direction and picking up strength as it progressed. In light of this approaching weather system, FRCS had activated its National Emergency Operations Centre and Divisional Service Operation Centers to monitor its progress. FRCS Branches that were in the vicinity of the cyclone projected pathway, were alerted and volunteers were placed on standby. FRCS alerted its trained communities to prepare and activate their evacuation plans. The weather system brought heavy rain and strong winds and caused widespread flooding in low lying areas and landslides. In view of this developments and proposed intensity in the progression of TC Sarai, FRCS submitted a DREF application to the IFRC Asia-Pacific Regional Office (APRO) for assistance in replenishment of Household items, and activities in response to the cyclone impacted and affected communities and individuals. However, the actual pathway as depicted in the second diagram shows the TC Sarai on a path away from the main island of Viti Levu moving down south on a south southeasterly direction.

The Fiji Government through National Disaster Management Council (NDMC) and National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) had opened evacuation centers in all divisions in anticipation of the impact of TC Sarai. Strong winds affected a number of shelters in the Western and Northern divisions and causing a lot of damage to crops and the agriculture sector.

While the nation was still returning to some normalcy after the exit of TC Sarai, another tropical depression was sighted. The Fiji Meteorological Service Centre’s Media Release No. 52, of Monday 13 January 2020, stated that Tropical disturbance TD04F was sighted approximately 1670km to the far northwest of Fiji or 760km westnorthwest of Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu. The projected path given by the Fiji Meteorological Office placed the cyclone on a north easterly track intensifying to a Tropical category 1 cyclone (TC Tino) on Thursday 16 Jan 2020 and making landfall on Vanua Levu, on Friday 17 January 2020. Gale to destructive force winds were to be expected. Its impact lay to the North east of Vanua Levu reaching Tuvalu, part of Samoa and as it turned south-easterly through the Lau group all the way down to Tonga.