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Preparing for disasters

Siteri Sauvakacolo
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

NATURAL disasters have long been a part of our lives.

Every year, there is a cyclone season (November to April) and that is the time of the year that weather warnings and advice come from relevant stakeholders about the importance of preparing for a natural disaster.

However, some people tend to ignore these warnings and advice which sometimes lead to the loss of their loved ones in their families and in their communities.

And it is a common sight in Fiji to see people loitering during heavy flooding or when the cyclone is already in our midst.

It's only when something tragic happens that we then start the blame game — we start blaming stakeholders that they did not issue advice and that there were no warnings at all.

There are some serious questions that need to be asked within our very own family and community regarding this issue. When will such a mind-set be changed? When will we learn to value our lives? When will we ever take warnings and advice seriously?

There is no harm at all in adhering to weather warnings given to us. Whether the warnings are for heavy rain or for a tropical disturbance, it is important to always listen carefully to weather warnings to avoid disappointment.

In some scenarios, people are seen swimming and enjoying themselves in flooded waters during the height of flooding or a cyclone.

A perfect example of this was the flooding which affected the majority of the Western Division during the Easter weekend. Families were trying to evacuate, some trying to flee from their homes while some went hunting for crabs when the waters receded a few days after the flooding thinking that it was safe already to go out into the waters.

While some people may have argued that there was little or no prior warning given, we need to realise that flooding and even cyclones are common in Fiji and we have experienced them nearly every year.

If no warning is given, we can use our common knowledge to gauge the weather and start moving to safer places.

Gone are the days when we have had to rely solely on weather warnings and advice as we are already experiencing the effects of climate change so the changes in weather patterns should be on our fingertips now.

We are also in the modern era where nearly everyone has access to technology and it may be quite easy to access the internet and the change in weather patterns from it. While some of us may not have access to the internet, daily weather bulletins are also aired over the radio and published in newspapers.

However you access weather bulletins, the most important thing is to ensure that you listen carefully and follow the relevant weather advice and warnings because you and your family will benefit at the end of the day.

Let us all ensure that we follow weather advice and warnings so we do not suffer and we are in a safe place when disasters do happen.

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