Friday, February 28, 2014

Flooding in Fiji–February 27, 2014

(From Local Newspaper) Fiji Hit By Heavy Rains And Flooding As Tropical Depression Approaches Country

Fiji will likely be spared the worst of a tropical depression that's formed over the country.

Heavy rain over the past two days has brought flooding to several parts of the main island of Viti Levu, including the capital Suva.

At 6am local time, the tropical depression was located about 170 kilometers north-northeast of Labasa, and was moving north-east at about 14 kilometers an hour.

The director of Fiji Bureau of Meteorology, Alipate Waqaicelua, says their remains a risk of the depression intensifying as it crosses Fiji.

"We're now focusing on this tropical depression - it's projected to come down over the Fiji group later tonight and early tomorrow, and expected to leave the Fiji group tomorrow," he said.

"Indications are it will possibly become a tropical cyclone later Saturday, early Sunday, and by that time it should be on its way out of Fiji.

"If it does come South over Fiji group, it's bound to bring more rain, but hopefully not the winds associated with it."

Climate advisor to the Pacific Regional Environment Programme Neville Koop says the tropical depression is still likely to form into a cyclone, which is now expected to hit Tonga.

"We could see a cyclone out of this depression - the good new for Fiji is that it won't probably occur until it has moved away form the Fiji region towards Tonga -which is not so good news for Tonga," he said.

"In Fiji we have been spared he worst of any destructive winds - there's just been very heavy rain."

Category Five Tropical Cyclone Ian storm devastated the northern Tongan islands of Ha'apai last month, leaving one person dead and more than a thousand buildings destroyed.

Rain and flood warnings

There are flood warnings on the main island of Viti Levu, and officials say the current high tide could cause extra problems.

Schools have closed and non-essential government staff have been told to stay home.

Mr. Koop says the weather in Fiji isn't expected to clear until late Saturday.

"Most of the heavy rain we experienced over the last two days has eased...but there's still quite a bit of heavy rain in the north, which will bring flooding to parts of the north," he said.

"Most of the rivers remain high, if not over their banks, so it won't take much further rain to bring more flooding.

"We are expecting more rain to come later today and we anticipate there will be further flooding out of this situation."

Manasa Tagicakibau, the director of Fiji's Disaster Management Office, said the most populated areas are the hardest hit.

"People are prepared in terms of taking heed of the warnings they've been given meaning that they were moved to safer ground," he said.

Fiji's Ministry of Information says schools will remain closed on Friday and government employees should remain home until further notice.

Mr. Tagicakibau said a number of evacuation centers have been opened and people are moving in.

On its Facebook page, the Ministry of Information says unnecessary travel is discouraged, while transport and road accessibility may be limited.

It advised people to store essential items including boiled drinking water and keep a first aid kit within reach.

Flooding in Fiji

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Scott and Ann’s Visit (Part 2)–February 16-23, 2014

It was a week of work – interrupted by periodic texts and emails from Scott and Ann extoling us with the wonders of The Royal Davui.  It was enough to make us a bit jealous.  And then they wrote that if we wanted to we had permission to come over on the 9:45 am boat on Friday to spend the morning with them, have lunch with them and then ride back with them as they left at 2:30pm in the afternoon.

Of course we jumped at the chance and so on Friday we were found at the Club Oceanius waiting for our lift over to “paradise” island.  And when we arrived we discovered that it was indeed a small bit of paradise.

We cool off with our cool scented washcloths, drank our fruit punch and headed out try some of Scott and Ann’s favorite toys.  We sailed on the catamaran, not much wind, but fun.  Then snorkeled, then Dew and Ann took the sea kayaks around the island and Scott and I lounged by the pool. 

Their villa was amazing, with wonderful views of the water and of BegaScott and Ann - 5th Day(Ann)00109 Island, and gave you the impression you were the only people there.  Lunch was served on a deck next to a huge Banyan tree.  We all had burgers, which had to have been at least a pound each.  We took the buns from the burgers and the rolls they served and fed the fish down on the pier, and among them was a shark. 

Then all too soon it was time to head back to the mainland, leaving their little island quietly in the middle of the lagoon.

We drove towards Sigatoka and stayed at the Outrigger Resort that night.  We stayed down next to the beach in our own little Bures, complete with painted ceilings.  The complementary champagne was quickly exchanged for Diet Cokes, and we were all still too full for dinner.

We watched the evening lighting of the torches, and the blowing of the Conch shells around the pool and then just lounged the evening away.  Breakfast in the morning was yummy and we loaded up the car and headed towards Navua and our highland river trip.

At Navua we were loaded into a van and off we went for the hour and one half drive up into the highlands.  We were accompanied by a young man named Matt from Australia, and our driver was William.  The road up into the highlands was being “worked” on.  This meant that they were pouring loads of rocks and dirt into the low spots and waiting for the traffic to tamp them down and smooth them out.

The roads are steep, narrow and somewhat scary in places.  We hit one area where the van bogged down and the guys got out to push.  They definitely weren’t enough to get it up the incline so with Ann and I in the van, William backed down the road about a half mile.  He started up again and it was apparent we weren’t even going to make it back to where they guys waited, along with a small station wagon full of gear that was our support vehicle.

So we rolled back down hill again.  This time William gave it all the juice it had and we fish tailed up the hill, lurching from side to side.  As we came close to the men and the other car I thought, “we are going to swing around and hit them all”, but William managed to keep control and we made it to the paved part just above all the rocks and dirt.  We cheered and told William he should be a race car driver, and he just grinned and loved every minute of it.

The highlands are amazing and both Scott and Ann said it was worth the price of the trip just for the ride up.

We lugged (okay, the men) the gear down to the river and we blew up the raft and kayak for Scott. Moses was our guide and he gave us a good safety lecture.  This is higher water than the first time we went, but it didn’t seem to make much difference.  We proceeded through rocky, narrow places that we were sure the raft couldn’t get through.

We stopped at a waterfall and hiked up to it.  It made up Scott and Ann - 6th Day(Ann)8for the waterfall that they missed last week because of the rain.  Speaking of which, it started to rain as we left the gorge.  At the gorge Moses took the raft over close to the waterfall for a picture and made sure Ann and I were drenched, so a little rain didn’t bother us much.

It rained all the rest of the way down, but nothing like last week.  And when the air is that warm who cares if it rains.  At the confluence we met the long boat, loaded the gear aboard and decided we could wait for lunch until we got back.  We were all drowned rats by the time we got there, but had had a wonderful time. 

Back home where we actually cooked.  Then Scott and Ann ran over toScott and Ann - 6th Day(Ann)4 visit with a missionary who was friends with Sam and we did their laundry and by 9pm we were all ready to hit the hay.

Next morning it was time to load them up and take them to the airport for their return trip.  They left at 10:45am and will get home around 7pm tomorrow, still on Sunday.  It was wonderful to have them, so good to see their smiley faces and to have a bit of home with us if only for this brief time.

And now we are patiently waiting for the next group from home who will appear on our doorstep the end of March.  And Scott and Ann have stories to tell them before they get here.