Fijian woman Kalisi holds her son Tuvosa, 3, as she sits on a bed in the remnants of her home damaged by Cyclone Winston in the Rakiraki District of Fiji's Ra province, in this 24 February 2016 handout picture provided by UNICEF. Photo: REUTERS / UNICEF-Sokhin

By Matt Siegel; Editing by Robert Birsel
21 March 2016

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Fiji's government said on Monday it would extend for another month a state of natural disaster in areas of the country still reeling from the impact of a super cyclone, which hit the country last month.

Cyclone Winston, which was the worst storm ever recorded in the southern hemisphere, hit the South Pacific archipelago particularly hard, killing 43 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless.

More than 25,000 Fijians remained in evacuation centers, according to the latest report from Fiji's National Emergency Operation Centre.

The extension of the state of emergency will allow greater access to affected areas, Fiji's National Disaster Controller said in a statement.

"The extension period will also allow health authorities to make provisions against any possible disease outbreak especially in severely affected areas," it said. […]

Sune Gudnitz, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, appealed for patience in dealing with the disaster in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp's Pacific Beat.

"Some of the communities are severely destroyed or affected. The houses are gone and they need to be rebuilt. In some areas they're talking about relocating villages to safer spots away from the shoreline," he said.

"This is a disaster of such a magnitude that it would be a while before everything is back to normal - if ever." [more]

Fiji extends state of disaster after super Cyclone Winston


Simione Ravu was knocked out after Cyclone Winston hurled his house, with him still inside it, through the air before slamming it into a stream bank. He was later found by fellow Maniava residents in the mouth of a cave. Photo: Anglican Taonga

By Mike Hawke and Lloyd Ashton
15 March 2016

(Anglican Taonga) – Simione Ravu, aged 66, is a lucky man.

Well, lucky may not be quite the word to describe someone who lost his home – and practically everything he owned – when Tropical Cyclone Winston rampaged through Fiji on 20 February.

But Winston killed 44 Fijians, and it’s a sheer miracle that Simione wasn’t the 45th.

Simione is one of 168 people who live in the remote Anglican village of Maniava [also known as Maniyava] in the province of Ra, on Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu.

Maniava sits high on a hillside at the mouth of a valley, and on the night of 20 February the winds being funnelled up that valley were epic – meteorologists say Winston’s winds gusted up to 300km/h.

The winds had been building throughout the day, and at about 6 pm Simione clustered his family around him in his simple corrugated iron home.

By now the howling wind was thick with flying foliage and timber – for hundreds of square kilometres the forests of northern Viti Levu have been stripped bare – and roofing iron was scything through the storm. […]

Nearly 25,000 homes were damaged or destroyed by the cyclone, and about 350,000 people – that’s roughly 40 percent of Fiji’s population – suffered serious loss of some sort.

Eighty percent of Fijians lost electric power, and getting power back to places like Maniava will take months – the lines are down, and the concrete power poles are snapped, for mile after mile.

The carnage is not restricted to Fiji either.

Cyclone Winston smacked Tonga twice within a few days, and 200 homes on the island of Vava’u are damaged, and 95 percent of the banana crop there has been destroyed. […]

In the days before Cyclone Winston hit Fiji, as it went on its crazy looping course around the Pacific, and then doubled back towards Fiji, Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama urged his fellow countrymen and women to prepare for the worst.

“As a nation,” he warned, “we are facing an ordeal of the most grievous kind.” [more]

‘An ordeal of the most grievous kind’ – Fiji cyclone update

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