Fiji Time: 4:03 PM on Thursday 28 May

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Students escapes sticky situation

Shalveen Chand
Sunday, February 02, 2014

NAILAGI District School headteacher Lemeki Ratudamu knew he had to take action immediately otherwise 18 children would be stuck in the school as flood waters started rising on Thursday morning.

Mr Ratudamu led the children through the hills of Nailagi, Sigatoka, to the main road where they caught their transport back home.

This as floodwaters along Yavala in Kavanagasau Rd started rising very fast while Nailagi Rd, a turn-off along the Kavanagasau Rd, also started filling up.

At 10am on Thursday, the road to the school was inaccessible.

"There were 18 children who came in the RSL (rural service licence) transport in the morning. I guess they hadn't heard the announcement about the closure of schools in the West," said Mr Ratudamu.

"These students came from Nadrala Village. I took them over the hill. It was still raining. We reached the main road from where they could catch transport and go back home.

"The roads leading to the school were flooded from both sides. I had to send some students back from the road because they were attempting to cross the flooded area, they had to if they wanted to come to school.

"By midday, the school's ground looked like a very big swimming pool. Three hours later, the only thing that could be seen from the school was just water.

"This is when people living along Yavala started coming to the school. They had a bad experience in the 2009 floods, so I guess they were just being cautious.

"There were 14 adults, nine children and a five- month-old infant who took shelter at the school."

When The Fiji Times visited the school on Friday, the scenario was still very much the same. Roads were inaccessible, much of Nailagi was still flooded and evacuees were still in the school.

"They brought their supplies with them. They had cassava, sugar, tea and their clothes. Last night (Thursday) I cooked two chickens for them," said Mr Ratudamu.

"As for water, we are currently relying on the tanks because the borehole has been flooded and we removed the pump.

"Once the flood water subsides we will put the pump back and water supply will be back to normal."

The evacuees were expected to return home yesterday morning.





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