Emergency teams have begun assessing the damage caused by severe Tropical Cyclone Winston, one of the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest storms on record.
Packing wind gusts of up to 325 kilometres per hour, the category-five cyclone caused a trail of destruction across the main island of Viti Levu, destroying homes and taking down power lines.
CARE is working with local partners Live & Learn in Fiji’s Western Division to assess water sources, sanitation and crop damage.
CARE Australia’s Pacific Gender Advisor in Fiji, Anna Cowley, said power cuts were hampering relief efforts.
“There is still a complete power blackout across the main island, Viti-Levu, which has stopped water pumps from working,” Ms Cowley said.
“In this type of emergency, it really is a race against time to get immediate relief to those who have lost everything and ensure families can stay safe and healthy.”
“We hold grave fears for people living in Fiji’s outer islands where communities remain cut off from communication lines.
“It will be another day or two before we get a true picture of just how much destruction has been caused.”
CARE’s emergency response team in Australia is on standby ready to be deployed once flights into Fiji resume.
Earlier this week, Cyclone Winston caused severe damage to houses and crops in neighbouring Tonga. Initial reports indicated 70 to 80 per cent of crops were destroyed in the northern islands. Together with the Tongan branch of Live & Learn, CARE is supporting communities to replant crops.
CARE Australia is an international humanitarian aid organisation fighting poverty, with a special focus on working with women and girls to bring lasting change to their communities.
To donate to CARE’s Cyclone Winston Emergency Appeal, visit care.org.au or call 1800 DONATE (1800 020 046).