Grappling with Cyclone Yasa
Emergency relief was provided by Vincentians in the aftermath of a natural disaster which has caused widespread destruction: severely damaged roads and houses, disruption in water supply and power outages.
Tropical Cyclone Yasa tore through Fiji, leaving a devastating path of destruction and poverty in its wake, with the area of Vanua Levu being badly affected. Roads around the city of Labasa and other regions were destroyed, and electricity and fresh water supply were shut off.
Having only driven a couple of kilometres in Labasa, Vincentians could witness the devastation on homes, farms and roads. Very strong winds, which lasted over four long hours, uprooted trees and tore down the roofs of many thousands of houses. The weather cleared up; however, evacuation centres are still crowded with suffering families. Other victims are seeking a temporary shelter while their house is rebuilt or fixed.
The National Council of Fiji assisted with the provision of tarpaulins for those living in a temporary shelter while they try to rebuild their houses, and purchased 40-litre drums for drinking water storage. Other Conferences in Fiji assisted with 44 bags of second-hand clothes, household items and financial support. The support from Australian Vincentians and the Commission for International Aid and Development (CIAD) was also instrumental in helping the victims.
A small team was able to travel to Savusavu and loaded food rations onto rented trucks to reach the affected areas. They even spent the night with the affected families, sharing with them their plight and bringing them love and hope.
After consultations with the village heads and family members, which are assisted by our fellow members, the SSVP decided to purchase the following: 64 corrugated roofing iron for six households, 200 litres of premix chainsaw fuel (this fuel is necessary to assist families to remove fallen native-hardwood trees for building their temporary homes), a hired truck for delivery of materials to the badly affected families, once the road network is restored.
Many Fijians families who earn a living from crops and have lost everything are facing a dire situation, as they have no savings to afford food or schooling for their kids. Hence, the SSVP is allocating relief funds for this purpose. As a matter of fact, school supplies and clothing have already been delivered to affected families in Labasa.
As of late January, house rebuilding and the delivery of essential supplies were still underway. Bags of second-hand clothes were delivered to the coastal areas of Napuka and Macuata (with cases reported of typhoid fever) and medical supplies were distributed to remote, hard-to-reach areas. Moreover, Vincentians are visiting young, under-resourced moms in Labasa’s hospital to support them with their newborn babies.