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Salvos well-equipped to deal with cyclone aftermath

26 February 2016

Salvos well-equipped to deal with cyclone aftermath

Caption: Debris on the streets of Fiji, left in the wake of Cyclone Winston

Salvation Army officers in Fiji are putting their cyclone training into action in the aftermath of Cyclone Winston which devastated much of the South Pacific island last weekend.

All officers and many Salvation Army volunteers in Fiji undergo “cyclone-preparedness training” and are skilled in emergency response, crowd management and grief counselling.

Ten Salvation Army evacuation centres in Labasa, Ba, Nadi, Sigatoka, Suva Central, Raiwai, Lomaivuna, Nasinu, Saweni and Lautoka have been set up, although due to a government-imposed curfew some were unable to open – a pattern that was witnessed across the country.

Cyclone Winton was a Category Five storm, with wind speeds exceeding 320 kilometres per hour and waves of up to 12 metres. It was one of the most severe weather systems ever to hit the southern hemisphere. At least 42 people were killed, power and communications disrupted and thousands of people moved to evacuation centres.

Using funds made available by New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Aid Program, The Salvation Army in Fiji provided immediate and ongoing relief to people in need. This included the supply of emergency containers stocked with mattresses, generators, shovels, wheelbarrows, chainsaws and protective clothing.

Major David Noakes, The Divisional Commander for Fiji, said Salvation Army workers would have a better idea of needs over the next few days, but one priority after meeting initial urgent needs would be restocking the emergency containers for the next natural disaster.

“There has been some damage to Salvation Army properties,” he said. “Some of our refuge centres struggled with internal flooding – the force of the wind was such that hurricane shutters were ineffective.

“The worst situation we’ve been made aware of to date is in Rakiraki [where] the Army officers had to evacuate their house due to leaks but are now back home and looking after several families, all of whom have lost their homes.

“Thank you for your ongoing prayers for Fiji. We are very proud of our people here and their service to others, despite the disruption to their own lives.”

Report courtesy of International Headquarters

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