SALVATION Army workers in Fiji were greatly encouraged when they received a visit from the country's president while they were providing shelter, food and clean water to victims of flooding and landslides. Six people – including a family of four – were killed, with villages and suburbs left under water. Thousands of people had to evacuate their homes.
A state of national disaster was declared in the urban areas of Nadi, Lautoka, Ba, Sigatoka and Rakiraki. Flash flood warnings remain in place for low-lying areas, including Vanua Levu and Taveuni. Work has begun to prevent the spread of typhoid after three people were admitted to Nadi Hospital with the disease.
The Fijian president visited an evacuation centre at The Salvation Army's Nadi Corps (church), donating much-needed supplies to Salvationists who were providing meals and shelter for 35 people. With the town's water supply cut off, the recently installed water tank at the corps proved particularly valuable in supplying clean water.
The hall and officers' quarters in Ba were flooded to the lower levels of the buildings, and an engineering assessment is underway. Despite having their home flooded, the corps officers were able to shelter and support 26 people in the house's upper level. Many of the people who attend Ba Corps are farmers, and most of their crops were washed away. It is estimated that more than half of the area's crops and livestock have been damaged.
It is a similar story for those attending Saweni Corps, with many farmers losing crops and livelihood. They now face the hardship that comes with trying to replant crops.
The new school year was due to start in Fiji the week of the flood. As a result of the disaster, schools in the western district have been closed. Families have received assistance from The Salvation Army through the provision of school fees and replacement stationery supplies.
Divisional Commander Major Iliesa Cola says: 'We thank God for the [Salvation Army] officers and soldiers ... who have been ministering God's love to those affected by the floods. May God continue to pour out his strength and wisdom upon them.'