HEAVY and unrelenting rain over a two-hour period early yesterday caused panic and distress as flash flooding took over many low-lying areas along the Lautoka and Ba corridor.
The Fiji Times was inundated with calls from residents reporting damage to houses, plantations, crossings and roads.
Still recovering from the ravages of the January and March floods, people complained about poor drainage systems and unattended waterways.
Many of those whose homes were affected told of fast rising waters at around 3am. They said it was too late for them to move their belongings to higher ground. Others escaped with only the clothes on their backs.
Still wet from her early morning struggle to get her family to safety, Luisa Bui of Vunato Settlement in Lautoka was lost for words while trying to recall her experience.
"Right now I don't know what to do. We lost everything. All our food, our belongings, are gone," said Mrs Bui.
"We had no idea that the water had entered our home. We only knew when some of our things were floating around the living room."
Mrs Bui said her husband and her five children and her 18-month-old grandchild could not do anything but wait for the floodwaters to recede.
"I told them to leave our things because it was too late to save them. Our lives were more important," she added.
Neighbour Vaseva Nadroma went through a similar experience and compared the fast rising water to that of a tsunami.
"The water level was so fast. We did not expect it to move the way it did and it is no wonder that most of us could not save our things," she said.
In Ba, Karavi settlement was one of many settlements to suffer. At daybreak more than 10 homes were underwater with owners only able to save their clothes.
Mohammed Lyakat said his family including his 85-year-old mother, stayed on their beds and watched as their belongings were washed away.
Mr Lyakat said it was one of the worst flooding experiences he had come across.
The Lautoka Corrections Centre also sustained damages to its vegetable garden, one of the key food sources for the inmates.
Western Division supervisor ASP Oliver Fisher said the garden was completely destroyed.
"This is the same vegetable garden we replanted following the March flood," said ASP Fisher.
For the residents of Yalalevu, Ba, early morning panic turned into frustration for about 250 residents in the area.
Yalalevu Ratepayers and Citizens Association president Arivin Singh said the residents were angry that the town council had not addressed the flooding problem in the area.
Mr Singh claims the cause of the flood was the Namosau Creek.
"They have promised us since 2009 that they would straighten the creek and they even come to do some surveys but they still have not done anything. This flood could have been avoided if they had done their job," said Mr Singh.
He said Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama was also informed of the problem during his tour of flood-affected areas in Ba earlier this year.
Officials from the Commissioner Western's Office are currently on a tour of the Yasawas while Ba Town Council administrator Arun Prasad is in Vanua Levu.