13 Jan 2009

Heavy rain is continuing to fall on and off in Fiji's Nadi

11:25 am on 13 January 2009

Heavy rain is continuing to fall on and off in Nadi this morning where some of the worst of Fiji's flooding occurred, prompting fears that the waters will return.

Most roads in the town are now open but the weekend's flooding has gouged large pot holes out of the roads making driving treacherous and slow.

Thousands of people remain in evacuation centres with no certainty of when they will be able to return to their homes.

Most have lost all of their possessions, as flood waters in low lying Nadi reached roof height.

They had no warning of the flooding.

The main street of Nadi town is open but is strewn with logs and debris from Nadi River, and piles of rubbish sit outside shops.

But with another deluge forecast, the shop owners say there is little they can do to clean up until the Government imposed State of Disaster is lifted.

Nadi International Airport is full of tourists trying to leave, some who have trying to get out from their holiday destinations for several days.

Medical officials in Fiji are warning it may be next week before flood-borne diseases present themselves.

The water-logged country is preparing for a second deluge of bad weather, which is threatening to worsen sanitation problems.

Nadi, Ba and Sigatoka are the worst effected areas of Viti Levu island.

As aid agencies enter remote areas, there are fears the death toll will rise from the current tally of three.

The Director of Acute Health Services, Dr Ami Chandra, says his staff are informing the public to boil water and avoid contaminated food.

"We need to also be conscious about the potential outbreak of endemic diseases like typhoid fever, leptospirosis and dengue fever. But those things make come some what later in the week or next week."

Dr Chandra says people are aware of the health risks, but the circumstances force them to be careless.

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Management Office in Fiji together with the Ministry of Health is urging members of the public to take extreme caution on food safety and the possibility of disease outbreak.

Due to the flooding of low lying areas experienced during the weekend, crops that have been submerged by flood waters are no longer considered fit for consumption.

With the intermittent supply of power in rural areas, frozen or refrigerated foods must be discarded to prevent food contamination.

And the Red Cross in Fiji says it hopes to reach people today in the worst-ht areas after widespread flooding.

The country is bracing itself for further rain across already sodden disaster zones.

More than 6 thousand people have already been evacuated, three people are dead and four are listed as missing.

From Suva, the Red Cross disaster co-ordinator, Vuli Gauna, says there is a pressing need to reach the worst-hit areas.

Particularly the ones we managed to access for the first time and conducted some assessments, and we are going to pretty soon send out a truck where we have supplies to assist the families who have been most affected.

Vuli Gauna says some homes have been underwater for up to three days.

He also says it has concerns about animal-related diseases and the unavailability of clean drinking water in some areas, after widespread flooding.

He says Red Cross workers and volunteers are hoping to be let into worse affected areas because another tropical depression may be forming.

By not being able to access villagers during floods reflects our limited capacity to conduct relief or assessment of evacuations by water. Obviously there is not enough capacity in terms of boats that could allow relief teams to access these things. In terms of logistics, when these waters do recede, the question of whether or how much time the road clearing is going to go for before the actual relief teams can pass through the roads.

The police in Fiji says they're prepared for further flooding in the areas already declared disaster zones.

Nadi, Ba and Sigatoka are the worst affected towns on Viti Levu Island.

Police superintendent, Erami Raibe, says many of the flood victims are already in temporary shelter, so they'll remain there until the weather improves.

The most affected areas we have people already in evacuation centres. We have about 114 evacuation centres and about 6,127 people in the evacuation centres, and I do believe that there were the people affected members of the community that would also be affected if there is more flooding.

Erami Raibe says the police will continue to monitor the flow of people into the towns to foil any looting.

Fiji's information department says in Korovou, water has receded at Wailotua flats and Wailotu Bridge.

It also says the water in the Wainibuka and Wainimala river in Naitasiri is also receding slowly.