Cyclone Zena downgraded overnight

  • 07/04/2016
(Fiji Red Cross)
(Fiji Red Cross)

A weakening Tropical Cyclone Zena passed south of Fiji overnight, leaving flooding and damage in its wake.

Rotary's Warwick Pleasse is organising relief in Fiji and says the capital escaped unscathed.

"We are pretty pleased with the outcome overnight. The cyclone has passed to the south of Suva, which is the southeastern corner of the main island," he says.

"The depression that passed over us on Monday brought huge volumes of rain too, so unfortunately it's been rain on top of rain."

Alice Clements from UNICEF is in Suva, and says Cyclone Zena is bringing misery to those already hard-hit by the weather.

"People have already lost everything in Cyclone Winston just over six weeks ago, sheltering in what might be totally inadequate temporary shelter in what might be a tent, or even a tarpaulin, or even a few pieces of corrugated iron."

Ms Clements says families who had begun replanting their crops will have to start again from scratch.

"People, have in the last six weeks, they have replanted their crops, and getting their seeds in place, trying to get there food supply in place, those will be washed away now."

UNICEF executive director Vivien Maidaborn says Cyclone Zena isn't an extraordinary event in its own right, but Fiji was already grappling with heavy rain and flooding which has caused "terrible" and "catastrophic" deluge.

She says "we've got a real concern about water-born illness."

"Imagine if you’ve spent the last month collecting tin to build a shelter, reclaiming your garden, and all that work is now gone.

"They need our support. We're seeing communities, these networks with links to Fiji one way or another, are pulling together and helping us fundraise clean water into Fiji."

Ms Maidaborn says other major concerns are getting kids back into school, cleaning out tents and re-establishing them in dry areas and watching health issues such as respiratory infections, caught from the damp and cold, and many people have conjunctivitis. 

CWM Hospital has announced all routines clinics will be closed today and Friday. Only the accident and emergency unit will be open. Schools also remain closed.

The Fijian government has implemented a countrywide restriction of movement order from 6pm last night.

The public have been advised to remain indoors and secure their properties until further notice.

Occasional rain and squally thunderstorms are expected over southern Lau group, the Fiji Meteorological Service says. Elsewhere is fine, apart from brief showers and isolated thunderstorms.

Airlines with scheduled flights to Fiji are keeping an eye on the progress of a category three storm as it moves over the Pacific.

Air New Zealand and Fiji Airways cancelled Wednesday flights to Fiji as Cyclone Zena moved towards the Island nation, which has experienced torrential rains over the past two days.

The two airlines rescheduled their Wednesday flights to Thursday at 9.45am, but say they will delay longer if the storm prevails.

Customers who booked to travel between April 4 and 7 have been offered flexible rebooking arrangements.

New Zealand Red Cross says it's closely monitoring the situation, as cyclone paths are often unpredictable.

Roads may not reopen until Friday or Saturday, the Red Cross says.

The cyclone was expected to be located about 90km northwest of the Ono-i-lau islands by 7:30am this morning.