IFAW’s Jorge Basave reports on Fijian floods
Fiji is experiencing some of the worst flooding in its history. IFAW has been monitoring the situation closely and is in close contact with local government and animal welfare agencies in an attempt to determine the extent of animal impact. IFAW’s Asia Pacific Emergency Responder, Jorge Basave, has been deployed to the main island of Viti Levu in order to assess the situation and sends this report:
IFAW has been requested by the Fiji SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Animals) to assist in the rescue and recovery efforts for animals caught up in this natural disaster. My first job is to determine where the greatest animal needs are, what additional resources might be needed and how IFAW can best help.
The most affected areas include the Western Division (Nadi area) and the Eastern Division along the delta of the Rewa River (northeast of Suva) of the main island – Viti Levu. However, damage is also being reported on the second biggest island of Vanua Levu. The government has declared the Western division a state of emergency, with curfews in the towns of Ba, Nadi and Sigatoka. 9,500 people been evacuated from their homes into shelters and there is a major need for water and food. Though waters are starting to recede, more rain is forecasted.
This afternoon I drove to the Delta of the Rewa River to witness the damage for myself. I saw many people clearing mud left from the flood water out from their homes, trying to rescue some of their ruined belongings and their furniture piled up in the street, ruined stock outside stores, flattened crops and many, many fallen trees. One thing that really stood out for me was the fighting spirit of the local people, as through the debris and devastation, I was greeted with smiles and waves.
Luckily the road connecting Nadi and Suva is open and in good shape, although the reports in local newspapers talk of washed away bridges and roads, loss of power, thousands of stranded tourists, and tens of millions of dollars of damage to crops.
I have already witnessed livestock and dogs scavenging amongst the broken villages, searching for food and shelter, so it’s vital that IFAW is here to help in the recovery and I will keep you posted as to how we will be assisting on the ground.