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Fiji floods: ‘Where is all this water coming from?’

Fiji’s bloggers have begun reporting on the weekend's serious flooding that has placed much of the Western Division of the country’s largest island under water. Debate within the blogosphere has also assessed the government’s capacity to deal with the situation.

Fiji’s military government declared a state of emergency and imposed dusk-to-dawn curfews in some parts of Viti Levu, Fiji’s main island, after torrential rain caused flooding reportedly three meters high that destroyed countless homes, at least one bridge and killed up to seven people. Monday, the government reported at least 9,400 people were being housed in schools used as temporary shelters.

That's not all. Looking forward, the government issued warnings about unsafe drinking water and the economic effects of crop damage and the hit the tourist industry could take.

Let’s start with a prayer for Fiji from the blog Babsiga.

When there are disrupting and unforgiving floods in many parts of Fiji it's an opportunity for neighbours to pull together, and they often do this in Fiji. In troubled times people can become generous and barriers put there by schemers and plotters are lowered. Others of course are opportunists and that's why two towns in Fiji have curfews at present to stop possible looting. Our prayers go out to all the people affected by the floods that occur in low-lying areas and near rivers. Meanwhile the politicking goes on and we pray for sensitivity, good sense, and good listening in the word-fests that are going on this month in relation to Fiji, a country of such possibilities and beauty.

Rizan’s Blog Page explores one method to solve the problem of Fiji’s rivers overflowing during periods of heavy rain.

Moving on, there has been heavy flooding in the Western side of Fiji. This is normal every time there is a huge downpour and then the river banks overflow bringing all the water into the West towns. I have a theory that dredging the rivers may just reduce the chances of the floods from happening every time we go into cyclone season. The negative economic costs easily outweigh the cost of dredging the rivers.

Staying with Rizan for a moment longer, he speaks of an unusual and dangerous tradition among youths in Fiji during floods.

Whats worse is the article in today's Fiji Times which mentions that Fiji is probably the only place in the world where people run towards natural disasters instead of away from them. This is very true. Whenever we have had flooding in Fiji, the television footage generally shows kids happily swimming in the flood while other people use boats and aimlessly trundle about as if there is nothing wrong. I would be extremely surprised if people did not bring out their surf boards and jet-ski's if we ever have a tidal wave hit our shores. Fiji is currently still in the cyclone season and we will definitely be seeing more rain and flooding as the days go by. The rain is a blessing for some and a bane for others. I personally see it as a useful thing because we've all been clamoring for rain for the past few weeks and months due to the heatwave which was going around. People were seen withering while others floated around comatose in lakes of sweat so the rain is really going to cool things down for us a bit.

From Anastasio Somoza's handling of a terrible earthquake in Managua, Nicaragua to US President George Bush's slow reaction to Hurricane Katrina, citizens around the world often gauge their government's effectiveness during times of natural disaster. More than a few bloggers in Fiji have asked why the government was so late responding to the crisis.

From Fiji Today, Peter Firkin asks the question to the country’s military government: So Where the Bloody Hell Are You?

When a country has a national disaster it is expected that all the resources available will be used to assist those in dire straits.

First lives must be protected and then possessions and infrastructure.

The current severe flooding in the west has resulted in loss of life but the people have been left to fend for themselves.

No disrespect to DISMAC [National Disaster Management Office] but they are under staffed and under resourced to cope with this size of emergency.

It was expected that the army would take this opportunity to show the positives in having a large standing army and fulfill the role of “protecting the people”.

This would have garnered support that is lacking for the regime and showing the army in a positive light.

This has not happened.

The army has remained with their bums on their seats while the country for the first time since the coup has had a need for them.

Where the bloody hell are you?

Commenter Sarote follows up:

I can tell you where the bloody hell the army is…they are looking out for themselves. The Army is NOT there to protect the people it is there to back a weak ass criminal called [Self appointed Prime Minister Frank] Bainimarama who pumps money and powers into them to make their lives really good because without the soldiers he is nothing just a waste of space….

From the Soli Vakasama blog site, this disaster is proof that the present government is not fit to run the country.

How will the treasonous illegal regime cope with the disaster that’s hit Fiji, or will it be a case of when the going gets tough the tough get going. Apart from the disastrous usurpation of the Nation and the complete incompetence in how to lead it, the floods, infrastructure and homelessness will be a test of their mettle.

We must thank the Lord that it wasn’t a full blown hurricane as the devastation would have been much worse.

Where is the contingency plan? If there is one, has it been updated?

Once again there was no implementation of an emergency situation and disaster evacuation, how to respond to one and how to set it in operation, whether it is for flooding or an out of control fire, by the illegal regime.

In a new blog, IG-Fiji, or Interim Government Fiji, which has been “created to monitor and refute allegations made by anti-government sites currently operating in Fiji” argues that anti-government bloggers are trying to blame the Bainimarama government for something outside its control.

We have once again been presented with a skewed view by RFN [Raw Fiji News] and SV [Soli Vakasama] today. On the SV site, we see that the bloggers are blaming the current govt. for the flooding and deaths. One can debate about the fault of the govt. until the cows come home but it surely must be acknowledged that tis govt. does not have the power to control the weather.

From the forum Fiji Board Exiles, real jack argues the government and the military has been working since the heavy rains began falling.

the cabinet has to agree to declare that so that the national emergency mobilisation programmes can come into play – what it means is that they can effectively deal with the situation – the Police, Army and the other arms of the State are now mobilised as part of DISMAC in order to coordinate the response – and the chain of command goes down from the DISMAC head office.

they already have started setting up “shelters” – and mobilised the supply of food and medicines to those locations.

there are also rescue units of the Police and army which are moving through the flooded areas evacuating stranded people to those evacuation points.

the army has mobilised with the police – they are out there – they have been in the field since two nights ago (Friday).

Raw Fiji News contends that the Fiji's military government may have created its own problems by engaging in a diplomatic row with New Zealand and Australia late last year.

Fiji’s bigger brothers, Australia and New Zealand are always the first to assist Fiji after a natural disaster but because of Frank’s hostile and childish behavior towards them,  the two countries will not be able to release assistance funds to Frank’s regime. They will give some funds directly to NGOs like Red Cross and others to fund their relief efforts but again, their assistance will be limited and they will avoid pumping money into Frank’s coup coffers which they know will be used by the dictator for his own selfish means.

LoyalFijian asks why there is so much flooding and offers bad forecast for the future.

Just where is all this water coming from?

Inadequate maintenance of drainage, large scale felling of trees may be contributing factors, but at the end of the day, there has been so much rain, some flooding was inevitable.

As if it wasn't enough already, another tropical depression was forecast to be heading towards Fiji, potentially bringing more torrential downpours.

3 comments

  • Its a natural disaster which one should well prepare before hand. It happens all over the world. The Govt. has nothing to do with it.

  • Eserani

    The Water Comes from the hundreds of millimeters of rain that fell over 4 square miles in just 6 hours.
    Now thats about a years rainfall in one day. Don’t blame the lack of Drainage that they have, its the full force of Nature which is due to the ultimately humid climate of the south pacific……..

  • Ravin

    For years after the Monasavu Dam was built, It is periodically spilt water so the dam doesnt burst and initially Nadi, secondly Ba River, and Parts flow into Sigatoka. All other countires regularly have to spilll overflowing dams but is done in controlled fashion. Peoples of Fiji particularly Nadi Town Council should tale the authotities to task as time and again that community suffers. But the gutless council will only lap the authorities arses instead of taking them to task and help destroy thr town, country and its people.

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