Disaster declaration begins detailed cyclone damage check

GOVERNMENT today announced that on Sunday April 12, 2020, it declared a State of Natural Disaster for Tropical Cyclone  Harold to cover three divisions of the country. 

The declaration basically empowers the Minister and Permanent Secretary responsible for Disaster Management to be able to mobilise government resources to address the needs of those most affected by the cyclone.

TC Harold which ripped through the maritime zone and the central division as a category four system had maximum wind speeds of 220km in some places and destroyed some 800 homes.

Effective for 30 days, the declaration went into effect immediately as civil servants, government humanitarian stockpiles, government transportation, shipping companies and the army moved over the weekend to prepare and ship the relief effort to the islands.

The declaration covers the following areas: 

  • Eastern Division ( Kadavu and Southern Lau) 
  • Central Division: Tailevu North, Korovou, Nausori, Nakasi, Beqa and Yanuca 
  • Western Division: District of Nadarivatu, Vatulele, the Mamanuca Group, the Yasawa Group, coastal communities in the Coral Coast and along the Sigatoka River in the Nadroga/ Navosa Province. 

The entire operation is based out of Ratu Kadavulevu School in Lodoni to be close to the Natovi Jetty where relief ships will sail out of.

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Disaster Management and Meteorological Services Jone Usamate announced the declaration this afternoon and described a detailed operation to source people and resources from outside the greater Suva area. 

The operation, which forms the governments initial phase of response will cost $3.5million and comes out of the Prime Minister’s National Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation Fund.

Set up in 2016 after Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston, the fund is financed directly by donations.

Government is not allowing any of its officials or people from its relief partner organisations to come from inside the lockdown zone. The supplies however have also been sourced from inside the lockdown area.

“At this hour, all officers who are travelling to the islands have already been screened by the Ministry of Health and loading is taking place at the Natovi Jetty. This to supply food rations and other immediate relief supplies.” 

The first shipment of will take relief supplies and people to conduct detailed damage assessment in the Lau and Kadavu group of islands.

The MV Ohana leaves today will carry officials, relief items and supplies to the Lower Southern Lau islands of g Ono-I-Lau, Vatoa, Ogea, Fulaga and Kabara. 

The MV Spirit of Love leaves today to visit the islands in the district (Yasayasa) Moala including Matuku, Totoya and Moala. 

For Kadavu, the government has engaged the MV Spirit of Harmony to take to the South of Kadavu supplies, food rations and officials who will conduct detailed damage assessment. 

The MV Altruism will cover the East of Kadavu carrying relief supplies, food rations and officials. 

“All these boats are expected to arrive at their destinations tomorrow where our officers have been advised to prioritize distributing food and relief items to those affected.” 

Meanwhile for the western division, the government vessel MV Vatulawa was loaded at the Lautoka wharf to carry cargo to the Yasawa and Mamanuca Groups while the MV Sea bus will carry officials conduct detailed damage assessment. 

Another government vessel the MV Sigavou which leaves tomorrow for Vatulele, Beqa and Yanuca will take food rations, relief supplies and officials.

Officials on these relief trips include soldiers and civil servants from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, I-Taukei Affairs, Water Authority, Telecom Fiji Limited, Agriculture, Ministry of Education, Red Cross, Mineral Resources Department, Empower Pacific, Forestry and the National Disaster Management Organisation. 

“These officers are going to be involved in Damage Assessment, Ration Distribution and Health Treatment for those who need it.” 

“The team will be deployed for 14 days and we will provide ground information once we receive them to keep the general public updated.”

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