State to assess damage on island

Jobe Hargrove of the Fiji Red Cross Society and Fiji Aeromedical and Rescue Service Trust rep Anthony Blake load relief supplies to be transported to Kadavu in a helicopter in Suva yesterday. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

Jobe Hargrove of the Fiji Red Cross Society and Fiji Aeromedical and Rescue Service Trust rep Anthony Blake load relief supplies to be transported to Kadavu in a helicopter in Suva yesterday. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

ONE of the first priorities of Government is to get health and forestry teams across to Kadavu.

National Disaster Management Office director Anare Leweniqila said they would conduct an assessment first on agriculture before they finalised plans on the distribution of rations.

A Government vessel is expected to leave for Kadavu tomorrow for the deployment of the first teams for the initial damage assessment on the island after the devastation caused by Severe TC Keni on Monday.

“From there we then can advise on the extent of damage and also on the distribution of food rations,” Mr Leweniqila said.

“I think right now one of the things we want to do is just to take the health teams and also forestry just to ensure that we quickly clear up the roads to assess the situation.

“Kadavu is a very fertile area so the economy in Kadavu is very good. That’s why we want to do an assessment with the Ministry of Agriculture before we finalise the plan on the distribution of rations and other things.”

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama told government officials present at yesterday’s briefing by the NDMO that the damage to the jetty at Vunisea on Kadavu should not stop government help from going there.

Meanwhile, more than 8900 people are still in 202 evacuation centres around the country. A total of 948 people are in 36 evacuation centres in the Eastern Division, 7804 in 159 centres in the Western Division and 183 in seven evacuation centres in the Central Division.

Mr Leweniqila confirmed all evacuation centres in the Northern Division had been closed.

He said all schools in the division were open, except for schools in the greater Labasa area which were facing water disruptions and were yet to be cleaned.

Mr Bainimarama said as much as they wanted evacuees to vacate the school buildings, it was also important that their homes were clean and livable for them to move back into.

“Yesterday (Wednesday) I was in Tavua. The intention is to move out evacuees from the evacuation centres so that we can clean up the schools, but some settlements and villages cannot fix their place overnight,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“They have to come back to the school before they can settle in. As much as we want them to vacate the schools, we really want them to make their settlements and villages livable first.”