TC Keni flies by

Tropical Cyclone Keni caused quite a stir around the country yesterday. There were no buses around, most businesses stayed shut, schools were closed and civil servants stayed home.

Floodwaters rose in parts of the Western and Northern divisions early yesterday morning, forcing people into evacuation centres in these areas. Power was down in some parts of the country.

By yesterday afternoon though, the cyclone was heading away from Viti Levu. Last evening, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama urged people to be wary of the fact that Cyclone Keni was still in Fiji waters.

He said there may be rain and flooding in certain areas. Mr Bainimarama announced schools being used as evacuation centres in the Western Division, Labasa, and Kadavu would remain closed.

Civil servants, on the other hand, have been advised to return to work today. Civil servants living in areas affected by Tropical Cyclone Keni, however, should use their own discretion and evaluate flood conditions in their area before returning to work.

Public transportation and businesses not affected by Cyclone Keni would also resume operations today.

While parts of the Western Division would remain without power as the Fiji Electricity Authority assessed damage caused by TC Keni, by last evening, power was starting to come back on in some affected areas.

A couple of things will stand out in the wake of this episode though.

The positives include the effective response by many members of the public to weather warnings. They prepared for the cyclone. Those affected by floodwaters headed for evacuation centres early while others took appropriate action to keep themselves and their families safe. Thousands of families stocked up on food and drinks, bought supplies of candles, and batteries for their torches and radios.

Understandably there would be questions hanging over the dissemination of information by the weather office and the reality on the ground.

Mother nature is unpredictable we know. We accept the fact that preparation is key to safety as well.

Fiji Meteorological Service director Ravind Kumar said the weather office is not able to please everyone.

His comments come in the wake of criticisms about the dissemination of weather reports linked to TC Keni.

It seems there were mixed reactions though, with some tourism industry stakeholders expressing concern that weather bulletins were at odds with the reality on the ground.

Farmers in some areas, on the other hand, said the warnings issued by the Nadi weather office were accurate and helped them prepare well. There were others though who said they were given too early and resulted in complacency. There was also criticism about disruption to business caused by early warnings.

A number of issues have been raised, and it is encouraging to note that the weather office is prepared to embrace different opinions and discuss them to better its services. That can only mean positive things for the people of Fiji.

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