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50 families moved to safety in Vatuwaqa

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50 families moved to safety in Vatuwaqa Children from Muanivatu Settlement, Vatuwaqa, taking shelter at St Luke’s Anglican Church hall as they moved to safety during Tropical Cyclone Keni on April 10, 2018. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Warning of an approaching Tropical Cylone Keni and rising water levels caused by heavy downpour early yesterday  forced more than 50 families of Muanivatu Settlement to move to nearby evacuation centres.

The inhabitants of this informal settlement along Suva’s Fletcher Road, opposite the Vatuwaqa Cemetery, found refuge at nearby St Luke’s Anglican Church and the Meteorology Office on Fletcher Road.

Thanks to alert officers from a nearby Police post,  the residents are grateful for the way they were “whisked to safety’’. They were guided by foot to the centres, which are about a 10-15 minutes walk away.

Jim Pillay and his family were asleep when they heard Police officers knocking at the door of their home while it was still dark

Mr Pillay said they were lucky to be woken up sooner before strong winds were felt in Suva and waters began to rise. The settlement is in the middle of a big mangrove patch.

“We were asleep, at around 6am this morning (yesterday) when we heard Police officers knocking on our door. The Police officer relayed the news and I woke up my wife and two-year-old son,” he said.

“So my other neighbours came and helped me carry my child and supported my wife to a nearby church where we are staying now.

“We saved what we could (clothes and food) when moving to higher ground where the church is.’’

Muanivatu Settlement committee member Alipate Radrodro said it was heart-breaking to see pregnant women and the elderly trying to find their way to the evacuation centre carrying a handful of clothes.

“Police officers went around the settlement to make announcement. With what little we could save we fled our homes and moved to higher grounds,” he said.

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