Staying focused

Fred Wesley | Monday, February 12, 2018
Hours before the National Disaster Management Office sent out a warning for people in Southern Lau to be on cyclone alert yesterday, three little boys prepared to dive from a bridge into a swollen waterway at Wailoku outside Suva.
Fred Wesley
Fred Wesley

They hesitated and stopped for a while as vehicles slowly made their way over the bridge just before lunch time. They were wet, oblivious to the bad weather and the muddy water.

Down at the waterfront off Tikaram Park in Lami, teenagers waded out to sea for a swim.

It did not matter that a steady wind blew in from the south sweeping its way across the face of the Capital City of Suva, and Lami.

The sea in the Suva Harbour was rough.

In the distance the giant vehicle-carrying vessel Glovis slowly inched its way across the harbour, past the entrance and on its way out to sea, heading in the general direction of Kadavu towards the south of Viti Levu.

By late yesterday the State issued a warning to islands of southern Lau, including Ono-i-Lau, Vatoa, Fulaga, Kabara, Moce, Komo, Namuka-i-Lau, Ogea, Oneata, Lakeba, and other nearby islands, to be cyclone prepared at the highest level.

The Fiji Meteorological Service expects Severe Tropical Cyclone Gita to pass the south of Ono-i-Lau as a Category 4 system tomorrow night.

Village disaster committees were encouraged to hold immediate meetings and implement their disaster readiness plans.

Like Tropical Cyclone Winston, the weather office said, storm surges are expected to accompany damaging gale force wind brought by TC Gita.

Aside from the steady wind, it had rained in the morning in Suva, with the sun struggling to come out of the clouds.

It was sunny though in the afternoon, with Suva residents enjoying one of those beautiful sunsets. It was as if the sky had been painted with dashes of orange, yellow and red, with sprinklings of gold in the distance, towards the western end of the harbour. The colours sat on dark shadows thrown back by the terrain hugging the coastline.

We are drawn into a false sense of security when the weather differs from the daily forecast sometimes.

It is important that we embrace weather warnings and ensure our loved ones are aware of the dangers that come with bad weather.

TC Gita has been projected to enter Fiji waters tonight, prompting the FMS to issue a tropical cyclone alert.

The Category 3 system is expected to trek towards Southern Tonga and the southern Lau Group.

FMS director Ravind Kumar said TC Gita was expected to intensify into a Category 4 system in the next 18 to 24 hours.

Mr Kumar said strong wind could possibly expand to the whole of Fiji while damaging gale force to storm force wind could expand to the eastern and southern parts of Fiji as TC Gita trekked closer to the Southern Lau Group.

Many of us can be complacent. Some people will ignore weather warnings. They get a false sense of hope because the weather looks fine.

We must take appropriate action to safeguard property, livestock, and our lives.

There is no harm being on the side of caution.

There is safety in being prepared. Weather warnings must be heeded. We will ignore that at our own risk.

Let's pay attention and be proactive.

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