Updates from Cyclone Ravaged Fiji
Global Ministries is grateful to Week of Compassion and One Great Hour of Sharing for their rapid response to this emergency. Your gifts to these special offerings make it possible to respond within hours of receiving these updates from international partners and mission personnel. As of this posting relief funds have already been approved and sent to provide urgent assistance to the people of Fiji on behalf of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ.
Bula Global Ministries,
Thank you for your message of solidarity and sorry for the late response as our power just been restored today. Yes, it is very sad the situation the country is in now. As and update, Tropical Cyclone Winston has claimed 21 death, 7 missing, more than 8,000 people in different evacuation centers around the country and more than a billion dollars for reconstruction of schools, homes, hospitals, churches, etc… The cyclone mainly hit the eastern, western and northern part of the main land viti levu and especially the low-lying areas. Right now there are still some islands that are completely cut off from the main land and some villages in the interior still unreachable due to land-slides, roads collapses and communication outages. The government and aid agencies are doing their best to reconstruct roads in order for aids agencies to bring help and assistance to the victims.
Thank you for your prayers and God bless,
Rev. Francois Pihaatae
General Secretary, Pacific Conference of Churches
Tropical Cyclone Winston entered Fiji’s waters on the eve of February 19, 2016. A week earlier it has passed by the islands, but made a sudden turn and cut right through the center of Fiji, leaving behind a massive path of destruction. Winston was a Category 5 cyclone (the strongest rating) with reported wind speeds of almost 300 km per hour (185 mph). This would make it among the strongest cyclones ever to make landfall globally, and the strongest recorded in the Southern Hemisphere.
Thousands of people are living in temporary shelters, mostly emergency centers like church halls and schools that were set up by the government before the cyclone made landfall. It is estimated that 21 people lost their lives, and 7 are still missing at sea.
Areas most affected are western, central, and northern Fiji. Both the western and central areas are closer to the capital Suva, where the distribution of aid is being administered. The northern part of Fiji is one of the areas that is hardest to reach and normally receives aid weeks or months after the cyclones; and with the severity of the damage in the country it could be 2 to 3 months before aid arrives.
There is a great need for basic necessities to put people back on their feet – temporary shelters, educational materials for children, medicine, and clean drinking water. These supplie will make a difference in the life of people who literally have nothing to their name at this time. These villagers, unlike urban dwellers, do not even have bank accounts to their names, the majority if not all are subsistence farmers and fishermen.
Temporary shelters will help provide space for women to work with their art and crafts to sell for income to support families. The seas are still too turbulent for fishermen to go out fishing, and most root crops are damaged. The Fijian government is working its way out from the center, with its main focus on areas worst hit by the cyclone. The international community is coming to our aid as well, and for this we are so ever thankful.
Salia village is situated in the one of the far northern island of Fiji, Kioa. With only one elementary school and a medical center staffed by a single nurse, it is a good place to focus on for a total population of about 800 people. As I have mentioned, government assistance will arrive for these people, but it will come weeks from now. While they wait, it is good to put them on their feet to continue to live normal lives.
In this time of need, we people of God continue to stand with our people here in Fiji. Our hearts and prayers continue to be with families who sleep under open skies, in partially damaged houses, and with good neigbors who offer them comfort in these trying times. All in all, our God is still faithful by the service we are able to bring to the suffering, even in the little that we do. Please keep praying for the whole country of Fiji as it recovers, and also to for your information, there are about two months left before this cyclone season is over, and we have in the past experienced 2 – 3 cyclones in one year. So please pray for Fiji.
Rev. Nikotemo Sopepa
Global Ministries Long Term Volunteer