Oxfam Responds To Cyclone Winston Devastation In Fiji

Category 5 storm Cyclone Winston was the biggest to ever make landfall in Fiji’s history. 42 people have died from the destructive force of the storm which also destroyed whole villages and as many as 117 schools. When Winston hit the island nation, wind speeds reached 325 kph at the storm’s centre, with an average wind speed of 230 kph. The previous strongest storm to hit Fiji was Cyclone Nigel in 1985 and its average wind speed was 190 kph. It is estimated that some communities in the direct path of Cyclone Winston were completely levelled.

Huge damage

Oxfam reckons there are as many as 30,000 people that have sought shelter at over 700 evacuation centres throughout Fiji. Communication lines have been severed and there is no power with limited transport options to reach the outlying islands because roads and jetties have been damaged. It is not yet known just how much damage has occurred. Fiji’s Government is warning that thousands of houses throughout the country will probably have to be demolished as a result of the damage which will pose a huge challenge over the coming months. The most immediate concern if for those people who are taking shelter in evacuation centres which are overcrowded. It is critical that water sources and sanitation conditions are improved to stop the outbreak of water-borne disease.

What is Oxfam doing?

Clearly Oxfam is doing its bit, by working with other aid agencies and local agencies and with the Government of Fiji to ensure there is an effective response delivered as quickly as possible. The first priority for Oxfam is to ensure there is clean water for drinking, hand washing and cooking, so that waterborne disease does not break out. Oxfam has delivered two portable water filters as well assisting with the delivery of hygiene kits and water to evacuation centres.

Please donate

Oxfam has plenty of experience in delivering water supplies during a crisis as well as expertise in sanitation and hygiene. The agency will also provide emergency food supplies and will stay well beyond the immediate crisis to restore livelihoods to make sure power is restored and roads are cleared so that it can see exactly what needs to be done. The crisis in Fiji is unprecedented and Oxfam is asking Australians to please donate to the Fiji Cyclone Appeal so that people who have been affected and are in urgent need of aid receive the help they need.

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