Saturday, April 07, 2007

Cyclone Cliff damage in Taveuni and Udu Point

There are several pictures and first-hand reports of the damage caused by Cyclone Cliff in Taveuni on Panda's blog.

I had heard that the people in both Udu and Taveuni were not given warnings on their radios that a cyclone was coming. Here is a report from today's Fiji Times - about what happened in Udu Point area.

Cyclone alert came late, villagers claim
Sunday, April 08, 2007

VILLAGERS in Udu Point on Vanua Levu claim the Meteorology Department only issued a cyclone alert after heavy rain and strong winds had raged through the northern division. The villagers want the weather station to upgrade its system and workers' skills to ensure future warnings are heard hours or days before a cyclone.

Acting director of the department, Alipate Waqaicelua said he would reply to the allegations on Tuesday as he was in Suva. The director of the department, Rajendra Prasad is out of the country.

Wainigadru Village headman Netani Tuwei claims strong winds and heavy rains brought in by Cyclone Cliff started at about 10am on Thursday and villagers did not hear a warning before that. "That morning most of us had our radios turned on. We suspected the weather would change because it started to get dark and cold from 7am.

"And during that time, we did not hear any warnings at all so we didn't prepare ourselves or put up shelters to protect our homes because we never expected a hurricane," Mr Tuwei said.

He said about 9.30am, they started to feel the strong winds and heavy rain in the village and elders advised all women and children to go indoors. "When that started, the river behind the village started to rise and burst the banks, forcing flood waters into village homes. The doors to some houses were forced open by the flood waters. That was when the men ran out of their homes to help the women, children and elderly people onto higher ground," Mr Tuwei said.

Despite the heavy rain and cold weather, he said the villagers had no other choice but to flee to a hill beside the village as flood waters were almost 2 metres high in the village ground.

Mr Tuwei said babies and children were wrapped in blankets and bed sheets and their heads also covered to protect them from the rain. The villagers remained there until 12.30pm when the strong winds and heavy rain eased.

Jone Bakaicake of Vanuaumi Village said men had to carry elderly people across the village to a home that sheltered the villagers from the cyclone. "In the morning we didn't hear of any cyclone warnings over the radio stations although we noticed the weather changing and it was so dark that we had to use torches while carrying elderly people across the village lawn," Mr Bakaicake said.

Orisi Rawaqa of Vunikodi Village at the tip of Udu Point said villagers did not hear any cyclone warning in the morning. "We thought it would only be heavy rain because it was dark but when the wind started to grow stronger, we felt it was a cyclone although there was no warning."


Pandabonium said...

That is so outrageous. The Fiji Tropical Cyclone Warning Center in Nadi is supposed to handle these things. What happened? Maybe they should be called the Cyclone Surprise Center.

Surely, they have access to satellite images to track these storms, anyone with a computer and internet connection does. The Bureau of Meteorology in Melboune tracks these storms, as does The US Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii.

There is no excuse whatever that people were not warned.

We are lucky there was not more damage or loss of life.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

The people of Vanua Levu have certainly copped it this summer. Yep, totally agree Panda about the lack of warnings. Even mobile phones these days can get a message out in seconds.

Now the Methodist Conference will only be partly in Macuata - the official meeting in the second week. The choir competition, soli, bazaar and minister's sessions will be held in Suva - they say it's because of the difficulties of food supply in Vanua Levu this year, but also the travel costs for delegates.

aviceda said...

Would be grateful for any news from Taveuni, can't find much on the web...

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

This post is about a different hurricane. The latest is called Tomas so google 'Cyclone Tomas Taveuni' and you might find something. Certainly Taveuni had some damage as the centre of the cyclone went over Laucala Island nearby.