February 21, 2016, Suva - Emergency Response teams from the Red Cross have started to distribute relief and assess the scale of damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Winston which brought gale force winds, heavy rains and damaging storm surges as it barrelled through Fiji over the past 48 hours. Winston, a Category-5 cyclone was the strongest storm ever recorded in Fiji.
“It’s clear that thousands of people have been affected in some way”, said Ahmad Sami, spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Fiji. “In Suva we escaped the worst of the storm but we are very concerned that some communities, particularly in the outer islands have been hit very hard. Many homes will have suffered significant damage”.
The government has declared a 30-day nationwide state of emergency and the Fiji Red Cross Society has mobilised over 300 staff and volunteers in 14 of its branches across the country to support relief efforts.
“In the coming days our teams will make sure that people are safe and that they have the help they need to get through the weeks ahead”, said Eseroma Ledua, Operations Manager at the Fiji Red Cross.
The first emergency response teams from the Fiji Red Cross left Suva today to begin assessing the damage and distributing relief supplies mainly in squatter settlements and evacuation centres near to the capital. Initially the Red Cross response will focus on conducting assessments in areas where the storm is known to have caused significant damage including Rakiraki, Ba and Tavua in the north of Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu. Based on their assessments a relief plan will then be put in place.
“People will need emergency shelter materials such as tarpaulins to repair their homes and they will most likely need relief items such as plastic jerry cans to collect water as well as other household commodities they may have lost in the storm”, said Ahmad Sami.
The IFRC is releasing funds from its Disaster Response Emergency Fund to support the Fiji Red Cross emergency operation. The Fiji Red Cross is also launching a national appeal to raise funds.
For further information and to arrange interviews with Red Cross spokespeople, please contact:
- Navinesh Kumar, Communications & Advocacy Manager, IFRC Suva Office
Mobile: +679 999 1226 Email: Navinesh.email@example.com Twitter: @NavinKumarRam
In Kuala Lumpur:
- Patrick Fuller, communications manager, Asia Pacific, IFRC
Mobile : +60 122 308 451 E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
- Benoit Carpentier, IFRC team leader, public communications
Mobile: +41792132413 E-mail: Benoit.Carpentier@ifrc.org Twitter: @BenoistC
For updates on Twitter follow @IFRCAsiaPacific @Federation @FijiRedCross Hashtags #TCWinston #CycloneWinston