Community leaders urged to start preparing for cyclone season

Fiji’s Minister for Disaster Management Inia Seruiratu is urging community leaders to start preparatory works ahead of the impending cyclone season.

The call comes as the ministry ramps up preparation for the 2021/22 cyclone season which starts in November.

“I’d like to make a plea to all community leaders, whether you’re a Turaga Ni Koro, a District Advisory Councilor (DAC) or leaders in your own settlements, please ensure that all villagers and community members are prepared,” Seruiratu said. “Look out for the vulnerable members of your respective communities, and ensure that there is a disaster plan in place. Preparedness save lives.”

Led by Permanent Secretary David Kolitagane, the ministry has held meetings preparedness committee meetings two weeks ago to discuss its readiness status in the lead up to the new cyclone season.

According to Seruiratu, the ministry is 60 per cent ready in terms of the new season prep and is working on bridging the gap which includes ensuring that the more than 1000 evacuation centres at its disposal are COVID-safe as well.

The ministry also intends to convene a meeting of the Prevention and Mitigation Committee in the first week of October. Following this, the National Disaster Management Council (NDMC) will also meet ahead of the upcoming cyclone season to review and approve all preparedness plans.

 The ministry is also awaiting the 2021-2022 Seasonal Forecast which is expected to be released by the Fiji Meteorological Office next month.

“This will enable us to better position ourselves in terms of advance planning for the coordination of disaster management operations in all four divisions.

“This year as you all know, our ability to manage crises will again be tested as the looming cyclone season falls directly in the path of our battle for the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Coupled with the devastations of Tropical Cyclones Harold, Yasa and Ana, the past 16 months have not been easy for all of us. The last two cyclones alone –TC Yasa and TC Ana impacted over 63,000 households, causing widespread damages amounting to more than $500 Million.

“This is why we want to reiterate that disaster preparedness is crucial. By preparing your homes, families and loved ones, we will not only help save lives and properties, but also lessen the impacts on areas and communities still recovering from the recent cyclones and the economic downturn posed by COVID-19.”

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