HUNDREDS of families that bore the brunt of the devastating floods earlier this year are not taking chances as a tropical depression heading towards Fiji threatens to bring torrential rain and strong winds.
Yesterday, as weather warnings were issued for the group by the Nadi weather office, residents in Lautoka, Nadi and Sigatoka secured their homes and started taking their belongings to higher ground to avoid loss.
Those living in flood-prone areas in Lautoka took heed of reports of worsening conditions that could result in mass flooding in areas along the Western Division.
Already feeling strong winds from the north of the Navutu shoreline on the outskirts of the Sugar City, villager Savenaca Nalibu said it was best to start preparing for the worst before it was too late.
"We want to start preparing now because we don't want to be caught off guard," said Mr Nalibu.
He said seven households living along the seashore were already moving their belongings to higher ground.
"Right now, as we move around, we're already feeling strong winds coming in from the northern side of the shoreline," he said.
Mr Nalibu said fishermen in the area had cancelled fishing trips because of the strong winds.
Fiji Meteorological Services manager Misaeli Funaki said while the tropical depression located towards the north western region of Fiji yesterday would not directly affect Fiji, associated heavy showers and strong winds would be experienced by those living towards the southwest of the group.
The system was located 1400 kilometres north-west north of the group at 1pm yesterday and expected to move southward today.
"Areas that will experience heavy rains are the Mamanuca, the Yasawa, Kadavu and neighbouring islands," Mr Funaki said.
"Lautoka, Nadi and Sigatoka and neighbouring parts will also experience some rain."
Mr Funaki said the associated rainy conditions would be experienced later today.
The weather office reported that the humid and unsettled experienced yesterday would continue with showers and odd thunderstorms.
According to the report, the weather should start to deteriorate by today with the worst of it likely later this afternoon, by which time the tropical system is likely to be at its closest approach to Fiji 300 kilometres to the southwest of Sigatoka.
Lovu seaside resident Mohammed Ashik, whose home in Lautoka was one of the many that was flooded during the January and March floods, expected the worst.
Mr Ashik said some of their belongings had been moved to higher ground while he contemplates moving to a temporary home before heavy rains hit.
"We'll see. For now we've moved all of our heavy items but as for moving to a safer place all together, we'll wait and see how bad it is before we can go.
"I'm worried about my house being empty because I don't want to get robbed," he said.
Mr Ashik said four families from his settlement were also securing their homes.
Oloolo resident Timoci Galu in Sigatoka said memories of the floods earlier this year were still vivid and they were preparing to move to higher ground.
"It has started to rain here (yesterday afternoon) and we are not taking chances if the depression will be at its closest to Fiji in Sigatoka," he said.
"The life of my family is of utmost importance."
Meanwhile, Commissioner Western Commander Joeli Cawaki reiterated calls by the weather office for residents living in flood-affected areas to start securing their homes.
"This is about initiative. If people have the initiative to move, to secure their homes then they will do it. I am urging people to start now because the last thing we want is for people to be caught off-guard.," said Cmdr Cawaki.
"We also want to prevent the unnecessary loss of life."