Move, if your home cannot withstand TC Yasa: NDMO

Fiji’s National Disaster Management Office is pleading with residents to move to safe shelters if they are uncertain about their homes’ ability to withstand the impact of a category five system, as Tropical Cyclone Yasa closes in.

It is strong enough to uproot trees, strong enough to uproot buildings, those that are not well secured, and can also cause a lot of flying debris, NDMO Director Vasiti Soko said as she describes the power of the category five system.

“The onus is on the individual who owns the house, we are asking you, we cannot come in by force. If you know that your house cannot withstand these winds, the evacuation centres are there for you to move before it gets dark.”

NDMO Director Vasiti Soko

Evacuation centres have been activated to allow for residents in vulnerable areas and those in the path of Tropical Cyclone Yasa, which according to DISMAC makes up 60,000 people based on the cyclone’s route last night.

Soko is also asking the public to refer only to authorised sources such as the Fijian Government, and NDMO-endorsed listing released via the Fijian media.

“My advice to the general public is to please only follow whatever NDMO issues. Do not move to just any EC because you’ve seen it has been released by  Do not move just because you’ve seen it has been released by an unathorised organizations.

“If you need to move to any vacation centre if you’re not sure whether it’s open or not, contact the NDMO or contact their respective or divisional commissioners, they will guide you to finding the evacuation centre that’s near you, as well as those that are open, including those that can accommodate disability as well.”

Authorities are also on the ground to assess the capacity of evacuation centres to withstand strong winds and costal inundation.

“We are prioritising these evacuation centres in the distribution of manpower as well as government assets, it will eventuate once we get confirmation from Met Office [and] the division of Commissioners on the ground about the infrastructure that is in place.”

COVID-19 protocols, and Provision of Essentials

Evacuation centres, Soko says will be equipped with hand sanitizers and COVID-19 protocols observed. Authorities have also taken into consideration the impending water disruptions and power outage and the provisions of these to evacuation centres.

“We are currently working with water authority in regards to positioning of water tanks should the nbeed arise. In regards to power oitage, this is part of discussions we have had with EFL. As of the need to shut down a line because of the danger it poses that lies with the CEO of EFL.”

Curfew Hours and Restriction of Movement

Discussions are ongoing with regards to movement during curfew hours, but the point of contact should people need to move are police, Soko said.

Whether widespread movement restrictions will be implemented, she said Fijian cabinet will make that call.

Vulnerable Areas, Informal Settlements and High-Rise buildings

Municipal councils have also been alerted to activate their respective emergency operation measures including that for people living in informal settlements. They have also been asked to notify developers of high-rise buildings within the central business district such as the WG Plaza to secure their equipment and respective projects.

“As we speak the Ministry of Local Government is sitting with special administrators to discuss that. So it is definitely on the agenda.”

Citizens and Repatriates in Quarantine Facilities

“As advised by the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Health, all isolation centres have their own emergency plans should they need to be activated, they will be activated. 

Government has also put aside a contingency plan for people in quarantine.

Schools and Y12 and Y13 External Exams

The Ministry of Education this afternoon instructed heads to close their schools from 2.30pm today. All pending external exams have been postponed.

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