Be proactive, NDMO urges

Fiji’s National Disaster Management Office Director Vasiti Soko urges all Fijians to be proactive about their safety as Tropical Cyclone Harold approaches the group amid the COVID19 pandemic.

“Please know your disaster management plan, include persons with disability, children and family members in your disaster plan,” Soko said.

“Those living in low lying areas need to identify their evacuation routes, centers and listen to emergency instructions.”

Current projections are that TC Harold will not make landfall, but Fiji will be battered with gusty winds, heavy rain and landslides, all of which may prove fatal if safety precautions are not adhered to.

Areas most at risk are the Yasawa group, Mamanuca group, Kadavu and the western parts of Fiji, but Soko advises against complacency especially with the country dealing with COVID19. Fiji’s case numbers totaled 15 today after another positive case was confirmed in Lautoka; a secondary transmission off the country’s first case.

“Move before it gets dark as well before the curfew period. But if you find yourself in trouble after curfew, let us know and we will let the security forces know,” Soko said.

Government vehicles, she said, will be mobilised to help with evacuation.

“Even though the eye is not making landfall in Fiji, our threat now is the gusty winds and the heavy rains. We are anticipating heavy rains and our soils are heavily saturated and will have a lot of runoffs.”

Soko also offers reassurances that proper hygiene measures including observance of social distancing at all evacuation centres; an exercise the NDMO is addressing in collaboration with stakeholders including the Ministry of Health. The list of evacuation centres that will be activated will be released soon.

“We will work closely with the Ministry of Health and our first respondents in making sure that physical distancing is still being practised in evacuation centers. The Ministry of Health has given some guidance on what they require and making sure that our people are safe from the cyclone and COVID19,” Soko said

“We have identified that evacuation centers used as isolation centers will not be used as evacuation centers. Alternative evacuation centers will be made available to the public.

“Our team is also aware of the protocol that needs to be properly monitored to evacuate people in hazard areas. It is a collective effort and we will try to carry out with our divisional offices on the ground as well as respective health officials.”

NDMO is also working together with the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji to monitor vessel movements in maritime areas.

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