‘Heed warnings’

AFTER being spared a direct hit from Tropical Cyclone Josie over the weekend, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has requested the public to take heed of the warning issued because of the recent floods in the Western Division.

While speaking at the launch of the virtual reality project Our Home, Our People at the Suva City Carnegie Library on Tuesday, the PM said the heavy rains experienced during the weekend were devastating and claimed the lives of four people.

He said the flooding death toll had increased from Cyclone Evan in 2012.

“While mercifully, we were spared a direct hit from Tropical Cyclone Josie, the death toll from the flooding still exceeds that of Cyclone Evan at the end of 2012,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“We had no deaths here in Fiji back then despite the Category 4 winds.

“Cyclone Josie reminds us that even if we are spared the destructive winds, the torrential rain these cyclones produce can be just as much of a killer.”

He has also pleaded with Fijians to treat these incidents of flooding with the absolute seriousness they deserved.

“Do not attempt to cross swollen rivers and stream and stay out of the floodwaters altogether, don’t try to drive through water covering the road.”

With Easter considered to be an opportune time to spend with family, Mr Bainimarama said many people were faced with misfortune because of the floods.

“Easter is meant to be a time of joy, not suffering and aside from these families, a great many others again suffered the devastating impact of water damage to their homes, businesses and vehicles as well as many hours of inconvenience caused by blocked roads or flooded bridges.”

Mr Bainimarama also conveyed his condolences to the families and friends of the four flood victims.