Prepare well for disasters

Geraldine Panapasa | Sunday, February 11, 2018
THE lingering tropical depression system has everyone on high alert and it is usually a time when authorities tend to keep a close watch on the safety and security of the community.

While the country continues to experience heavy rain, strong wind, squally thunderstorms and flash-flooding in low-lying areas, the Fiji Police Force has taken a tough stand on ensuring every member of the community takes heed of the preventative measures to stay safe.

Our article on Page 3 today highlights the stern warning from chief operations officer acting ACP Maretino Qiolevu to parents and guardians who fail to keep their children out of harm's way.

Acting ACP Qiolevu did not mince his words when he said they would not hesitate to lay charges of negligence on parents and guardians if their child falls victim to harm during this period of adverse weather.

His advice comes after police have had to continuously stop children from swimming and playing in flooded areas and swollen rivers.

It is a constant reminder whenever police find children exposed to these dangerous situations.

From November 1, 2017 to April 30, 2018, Fiji is expected to experience four to six tropical cyclones, and according to the Fiji Meteorological Service, one tropical cyclone may reach or exceed Category 3 status.

The mere thought of enduring yet another tropical depression or cyclone has brought back painful memories for more than 100 villagers from Nasau on Koro Island, who, according to our Page 1 article, have evacuated their homes to seek shelter at the newly renovated church, which had been converted into an evacuation centre.

Many still remember the dreadful day Severe TC Winston made landfall on Koro Island in February 2016. The extensive devastation and loss of life were unimaginable consequences of a force we had no control over.

It was mother nature's wrath at its worst for a small island nation like Fiji.

For these villagers, never again would they take weather warnings lightly. This time around, the community banded together to move the elderly and children to safety. They learnt from a terrible tragedy two years go and left nothing to chance.

It is a lesson not just for those located in the path of tropical cyclones but everyone in the community. Life is precious and at any time, it can be taken away either through an unfortunate tragedy or through mishaps that could have been avoided.

Just yesterday, the National Disaster Management Office issued an advisory to the public to examine their level of cyclone preparedness and to ensure that families and properties are cyclone ready in the face of a natural disaster.

This was in light of the forecasted track of Tropical Cyclone Gita, a Category 2 system, which may pass close to the south of Fiji in the next few days from Tongan waters. While the Fiji Meteorological Service has forecasted that Tropical Cyclone Gita poses no direct threat to Fiji at this stage, we can never be too complacent or rest on our laurels.

It is important to remain prepared at all times.

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