Stay safe, heed warnings

TROPICAL Cyclone Josie continued on its south easterly journey yesterday, dumping heavy rain on parts of the country.

By yesterday, it had left in its wake four confirmed deaths and a missing person.

Yesterday afternoon floodwaters continued to rise in parts of the Western Division, threatening many families.

The National Disaster Management Office confirmed that 18 evacuation centres were activated in Nadi, Lautoka and Nadroga.

Late yesterday the police also advised people living in low-lying areas and near waterways to move to higher ground.

Unrelenting overnight rain affected the West, flooding many homes, sweeping away cars, disrupting flights, damaging crops, and forcing the closure of many roads.

The Navua River also broke its banks yesterday afternoon.

In its 6.30pm bulletin the National Weather Forecasting Centre in Nadi issued a special weather report.

A heavy rain warning remained in force for the whole of the Fiji Group, it said.

Tropical Cyclone Josie was then located about 140km southwest of Kadavu and 250km south of Nadi at 6pm.

It was moving southeast at 10km per hour.

Periods of rain, heavy at times and few squally thunderstorms were forecast for the whole of Fiji.

Periods of rain are expected to gradually ease to occasional showers from the West by today.

Surely such weather warnings must be heeded.

This isn’t a time for people to be flirting with death.

Flash floods are dangerous.

They strike with so much power that it can be overwhelming. We will continue to venture out in this bad weather at our own risk.

Warnings are issued, and it is expected that they would be followed.

Yesterday, in the face of rising floodwaters, some families, it seemed, opted to remain at home. They valued their belongings. They spoke about seeing the worst floods, yet opted to remain at home.

Such times would obviously force those affected to make critical decisions.

We have to consider warnings by the authorities with a certain degree of appreciation of the fact that lives are at stake.

There would obviously be questions raised about the impact of such weather systems on our nation, how prepared we are and the ability of those in authority to respond to such disasters quickly.

Life hangs by a thread so to speak. Sometimes it is the decisions we make that can also come back to haunt us.

Let’s heed advice, be proactive, consider the safety of our loved ones, make the right decisions and stay safe.

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