Beginning the first of November, South Pacific cyclone season continues through April each year. Fiji was issued a flood alert, heavy rain and strong wind warnings, Thursday 15 December and National Disaster Management officials prepared more than 900 evacuation centres for residents who might be forced to move to higher ground.
Over the next few days “torrential rain caused widespread flooding and many people have taken refuge in evacuation centres after their towns and villages were inundated,” according to ABC News.
Hans Sorenson, Pacific Area Welfare Manager for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reported, “There is no damage to our buildings or missing missionaries.”
Elder Adolf Johansson, Area Seventy, local senior Church leader, said “Reports are still coming in, but we know that the grounds of two meeting houses—Naulu and Navua—have had significant landslides, and many members’ homes have suffered extensive flood damage.
“With their crops washed away, many are in need of food assistance, and it will be hard for them at Christmas. But our local leaders are helping with that, and the members are resilient and good at helping each other out.”
Sulueti Kama, Fiji’s Director of Public Affairs for the Church, reports that the Navatuyaba’s local congregation has been hardest hit.
“This ward is on an island in the Rewa River, so they are surrounded on both sides. Plantations have been under water for six days. Villagers are pulling out their root crops hoping that some are still edible.
“Some homes of members were flooded and other members went to help clean out mud and water to make the homes habitable.
“According to their bishop, Sami Vuli, all members are safe and accounted for. Water slowly receded yesterday, and today they are totally clear of water, and buses and vehicles have resumed running.
“The missionaries’ flat was flooded, but fortunately the missionaries had relocated to Waila before their flat got flooded.”
LaMar Layton, President of the Fiji Suva Mission of the Church said, “There has been extensive flooding in parts of Fiji. All missionaries are well and accounted for.
“Four missionaries were cut off from road access as a result of a new flood lake covering the road. The assistants [to the president] took up food and supplies to the edge of the new lake. A boat was hired to ferry the supplies to the stranded missionaries on the other side.
The flood waters are receding and missionary work is returning back to normal.”