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Army responds to Fiji’s floods

Flooding described as Fiji’s “worst-ever” natural disaster.

When the waters had receded, flood victims in Nadi faced the sad task of retrieving wrecked belongings from their homes. [Photo courtesy of International Headquarters]

Over three days in early January, torrential rains dumped more than 27 inches of water on western Fiji. Described as Fiji’s worst-ever natural disaster, the resultant floods, with torrents quickly overflowing riverbanks and rampaging through communities, destroyed crops, homes, bridges and roads.

Just when things seemed at their worst, another storm system moved through the region causing further flooding. Worst hit were the towns of Nadi and Ba. Spared from flooding, The Salvation Army hall at Nadi was used as an evacuation center. Captains Jeremaia and Amelia Naviko and corps members, some of whom had their own homes flooded, provided food and shelter for evacuees, including a pregnant woman who gave birth at the height of the flood. Naviko, a burly former policeman, helped rescue a number of people from the rising floodwaters in their homes.

In some houses the water had reached the ceiling and the streets were flowing with fast-moving floodwater and debris. Some people were trapped on roofs for two days. After floodwaters receded, Naviko formed clean-up teams, armed with brooms, shovels and a water blaster, to help clean up houses. In Ba, both the Salvation Army hall and the officers’ house are near the river, which burst its banks three times, sending torrents of water through the first floor and several inches into the second story.

Fortunately, corps officers Captains Vilikesa and Sesenieli Bogi had persuaded several neighbors who were reluctant to leave their one-story houses to take refuge on the upper floor of their house even though it, too, was flooded by several inches.

Throughout Fiji, The Salvation Army came together to provide food, shelter and meal preparation to affected areas.

The Salvation Army already is receiving many requests for assistance with basic food items, household goods, bedding and school fees. Monetary donations earmarked “Disaster Relief” may be sent to your local Salvation Army, made online at www.salvationarmyusa.org or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY.

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