Responding to Cyclone Winston in Fiji

MapAction is responding to a category 5 storm which made landfall on Fiji’s northern Lau islands between 20-21 February. One highly experienced volunteer has already deployed to support the response and help identify priority needs. A second volunteer will reinforce our team in Fiji in the coming days.

At its peak Cyclone Winston was estimated by the Fiji Meteorological Service to have sustained winds of 230kmph, gusting to 325 kmph, making it the most powerful cyclone to hit Fiji since record-keeping began. The cyclone has caused extensive damage to homes, schools and businesses. There are particular concerns for communities on outlying islands which are thought to have been especially hard hit.

Recent reports in the media, although unconfirmed, have put the death toll at over 20, with fears that this will continue to rise. In many areas power lines have been brought down and communications cut off, making it more challenging to collect accurate, comprehensive data on impact and needs.

The Fiji National Disaster Management Office has activated all government emergency systems including National and Divisional Emergency Operations Centres. MapAction’s team will be supporting the Fijian government and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) to help prioritise and target the humanitarian response.

Photograph: HANDOUT/Reuters