Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has warned all Fijians to remain on high alert as a new tropical depression heads towards Fiji bringing more severe weather.
It is predicted to develop into a cyclone as it nears Fijian waters.
It follows hot on the heels of Tropical Cyclone Josie which claimed seven lives and caused substantial damage.
Last night, the Government announced new assistance for canefarmers hit by the destructive weather events.
The Minister for Agriculture and Disaster Management, Inia Seruiratu, said financial help in the form of a grant will be provided for seed planting materials, fence line and feed that were damaged and verified. It will also pay for the cleaning of debris.
Mr Bainimarama said projections for the new storm indicated “we have a new cyclone forming to the west of Fiji that poses yet another serious threat to the lives of our people and the health of the Fijian economy.”
“As we’ve seen due to changing weather patterns, these storms are becoming more frequent and more severe, and it is vitally important that every Fijian is fully prepared for this fresh onslaught.
“We are already providing relief and rehabilitation in those areas already hit by Tropical Cyclone Josie. And we have no way of knowing exactly where the next storm will strike, so we must all be prepared and alert.”
“I urge you all to pay close attention to the media and the warnings and advice that will be given in the coming days. Make sure your property is as secure as you can make it. If you have any doubt about its ability to withstand the storm, we have evacuation centres ready to take you.
“Your personal safety and that of your family is paramount. Please avoid any swollen rivers and stay out of any floodwaters altogether. Do not try to drive through water covering the road. I also urge every Fijian to please take special care to ensure those who are vulnerable, including children and the elderly, are kept as far away as possible from flooded areas and out of harm’s way.”
He said this had been a very trying time for Fijians who were still reeling from the severe weather we experienced earlier this week.
“All of my Government’s efforts are being directed at assisting those Fijians already affected. We have been on the ground providing relief and we will continue to provide immediate support to those Fijians experiencing the continued rains and flooding this weekend.”
Fiji Meteorological and Hydrological Service Director Ravind Kumar said the tropical disturbance (TD13F) developing to the Northwest of Fiji had been upgraded to a tropical depression around noon (12pm) yesterday.
“It was located at 890 kilometres West, North West of Nadi at 2pm, this afternoon (yesterday), at the moment it is very slow moving and is expected to take a South Easterly track and pass close to the group early next week,” Mr Kumar said.
He said north westerly winds would become strong early next week. Near gale force to damaging gale force winds would develop, he said. At the moment, he said since the system was slow moving. Its track, movement and intensity remained uncertain.
He said details of the direction of the wind would be much clearer in the next 24 to 72 hours.
For this weekend, he said, rain would be heavy at times, becoming frequent and we would see that the rain that had been predicted would bring more flash flooding as well as the river flooding.
The Fiji Meteorological Service had earlier stated that the tropical depression could possibly be further upgraded to a category 1 cyclone as it moved towards the group.
“The timing, the movement and its track is uncertain at the moment and we will see that as we go along, probably it will be more clearer when we go on to Sunday,” Mr Kumar said.