ShelterBox thank DFAT and the Australian Defence Force for their assistance in Fiji

 

Australian military helicopters proved essential in reaching remote island communities.

Australian military helicopters proved essential in reaching remote island communities in Fiji.

 

Getting emergency aid where it is needed most is often the biggest challenge following a disaster. When the disaster zone is an archipelago of more than 300 islands, as is the case in Fiji, the challenge is even greater. ShelterBox’s operational model of pre-positioning aid regionally meant that we were able to get essential aid into Fiji quickly. Partnering with other organisations, both government and non-government, meant we could distribute that aid to remote communities in their hour of need.

Consignment of ShelterBoxes being loaded onto a RAAF C130 transport plane at Richmond Air Base

Consignment of ShelterBoxes from pre-positioned stock, being loaded on to a RAAF C130 transport plane at Richmond Air Base.

ShelterBox Operations Manager, Alf Evans, who helped coördinate our response in Fiji said,

From the very first days of the crisis, both the Australian and New Zealand military were vital to ShelterBox’s response . All of our pre-positioned stock in both countries was flown in using Military transport. We have utilised helicopter assets numerous times to get aid and personnel efficiently to where it is needed. It is safe to say the military support has made key aspects of our response possible ,and fewer desperate families in need would have been assisted without the unique, specialist service they have provided. Shelterbox would like to extend its deepest thanks to all those involved, and hope we can replicate this fantastic partnership.

Shelterbox aid arrives at Nausori airport in Fiji

Shelterbox aid arrives at Nausori airport in Fiji

In a quote from a recent DFAT Press Release, the Interim Chief Executive of ShelterBox, Chris Warham, said,

‘Challenging responses, such as this in Fiji, so often require effective partnership and a pooling of resources and experience. Quite simply, without the assistance and expertise of the Australian Defence Force, ShelterBox would not have reached some outlying islands so quickly.’

Diane and baby Yokimi in front of their ShelterBox tent.

In the worst affected areas, ShelterBox aid was essential for vulnerable families.

ShelterBox continues to help families recover from the effects of Cyclone Winston in Fiji. If you would like to support our efforts, you can donate here: PLEASE DONATE

 

 

 

No home and no possessions in Fiji

Children play in the reamins of a house on the island of Ovalau, Fiji

Children play in the remains of a house on the island of Ovalau, Fiji

 

Ovalau is the sixth largest island in Fiji. When Cyclone Winston hit the country six weeks ago, it caused widespread destruction to Ovalau and many other islands. Massive trees lie on their sides. Leaves and branches are nowhere to be seen, but broken belongings and rubble lie tangled in the devastation.

When the cyclone swept through the Tokou, a village in Ovalau that is located below sea level, people sheltered in the community centre. As they waited for the storm to pass, they saw corrugated iron fly off roofs, possessions scattered and whole homes reduced to cement foundations.

There was no way to rest in the community centre, as the cyclone created such a big storm surge that the water came up to people’s chests. Parents had to hold their children up in the air in order to keep them safe.

While these communities are resilient to the extreme weather of the South Pacific, many families are still living in emergency accommodation such as schools and community centres.

 

Diane and baby Yokimi in front of their ShelterBox tent.

Diane and baby Yokimi in front of their ShelterBox tent.

 

Diane and her family have been living in the community centre since Cyclone Winston hit. Their home was destroyed and they lost all of their possessions. It was terrifying, especially for their three-month-old child Yokimi.

With your support our ShelterBox teams were able to provide Diane and her family with a ShelterBox. The box not only contains a tent that the family will be able to stay in until they start rebuilding their home, but all of the essential items needed to help them return to normal life such as kitchen utensils, solar lights and a water filter.

For Diane and her family, a ShelterBox means relief. She said: ‘I’m so happy to have a tent – to have a safe place of our own to sleep.’

Your donations enable us to provide ShelterBoxes, tents and tools to provide shelter and help people repair damaged homes. Despite rough terrain, remote islands and further storms, our ShelterBox response teams are going the extra mile to reach people in need.

We’re making a difference in Fiji, but there are families all over the world who are living without shelter. Please donate today so that no family goes without shelter.

ShelterBox aid workers take cover as second cyclone in six weeks brings more misery to Fiji

ShelterBox relief tent in Fiji

 

As the Fiji islands recover from Cyclone Winston, the strongest storm ever recorded in the southern hemisphere, the Pacific archipelago is now bracing itself for tropical cyclone Zena which has already caused flash flooding. Aid workers, including ShelterBox teams, are sheltering from the intense rains.

For the second time in six weeks the people of Fiji have been ordered to stay indoors as another major cyclone bears down on the paradise islands, and thousands are again heading for evacuation centres.

Category three Cyclone Zena is expected to hit early tomorrow. Torrential rain has already triggered major flash flooding on Monday and Tuesday. There are fears that Zena will cause structural damage in populated areas such as Suva, the Pacific Harbour and the Coral Coast. Its course is expected to threaten the main island of Viti Levu and Kadavu, where New Zealand radio reports that at least 3,500 people have already moved into emergency shelters.

The Fijian Government has imposed an indefinite nationwide ‘Restriction of Movement’ order, which came into force at 18.00 local time. ‘To preserve safety and public order prior to the arrival of Tropical Cyclone Zena, all members of the public are to remain indoors and secure their properties until further notice,’ says an official statement. ‘The Fiji Police Force, in support of the Emergency and Discipline Services, will ensure the maintenance of this order.’

ShelterBoxes on wheelbarrows pushed by kids, Batiki island

The Government also announced that schools have been closed, and most international and domestic flights have been cancelled. Fiji media report that a 70-year old man was found dead in the swollen Sabeto River, and another 19-year-old woman is missing after being swept away in floodwaters. 

Alf Evans, who is In Country Coordinator for ShelterBox’s ongoing response to Cyclone Winston, says a bridge is down at nearby Toki. He reports to the charity’s Cornwall HQ, ‘Some ShelterBox tents are being taken down on the initiative of communities themselves.’

‘The hotel in which our response team is staying has all its seawards facing windows boarded up. If all communications on the island go down we will continue to avoid all unnecessary travel, stay safe, and make contact as soon as possible. We have first aid kits, and among the team we have several first aid trained individuals. One of our response volunteers is a trained police lost person and search manager.’

Cyclone Winston peaked on 20 February, killing at least 42 people and causing widespread structural damage. A major international aid effort is still in full swing, particularly on outlying islands with small communities. Zena will be a further setback, as transport infrastructure, power and fresh water will again be vulnerable.

To donate, visit: www.shelterbox.org.au

Desperate need for shelter in Fiji in the wake of Cyclone Winston

Cyclone devastation in Fiji

 

ShelterBox Response Teams are working across Fiji to provide shelter for families after Cyclone Winston, the worst storm ever recorded in the southern hemisphere.

The storm hit on 20 February, bringing torrential rain, wind speeds of 200 mph, and 40ft waves to the country’s 330 islands. The sheer force of the storm has obliterated up to 90% of structures and left an estimated 120,000 people without shelter.

On the island of Makogai, the villagers put on life jackets and sheltered in their homes as the winds gathered speed. As the houses began to tear apart, schoolteacher Sakaraia Balebuca and his family decided to hide underneath their raised brick floor.

As Sakaria moved to crawl under the house, one of the walls broke and crashed into him. Without the lifejacket he was wearing, Sakaria would have been crushed. More people joined the family under the brick floor until more than 40 villagers, including children and mothers with infants, were all hiding together.

When a ShelterBox response team arrived, they found the whole village sheltering in the only four buildings left standing.

 

boxes being off-loaded from a small boat

A ShelterBox Response Team delivers aid to the Fijian island of Makogai

 

Thanks to prepositioned stock in Fiji itself, as well as New Zealand and Australia, our ShelterBox response teams have already been able to deliver tents and ShelterBoxes to families on six remote islands, including Makogai. To reach these islands, we have teamed up with Sea Mercy; a charity that uses a network of luxury yachts to deliver aid and medical expertise in the South Pacific.

More aid is on its way, including 2,000 solar lights that will provide light and safety to communities without power, but it’s not enough.

There are still many tiny islands too remote to have yet received help. We need your support to send another 2,000 ShelterBoxes to reach these communities and give people like Sakaria comfort and safety.

Please help the people of Fiji today.

 

ShelterBox aid arrives in the cyclone-struck Fiji islands – by superyacht, catamaran and traditional long boat

boxes being off-loaded from a small boat

 

A flotilla of boats has been mobilised to spread aid across Fiji’s 330 islands in the aftermath of Cyclone Winston, the most powerful storm ever recorded in the southern hemisphere.

ShelterBox is using its Australian and New Zealand affiliates, a response team from the USA, and an alliance with  Sea Mercy, a charity that uses super-yachts and catamarans, in order to get aid to Fiji islanders left without shelter in the wake of Cyclone Winston.

On 20 February the most powerful storm ever recorded in the South Pacific hit the paradise islands of Fiji with winds over 200 mph, torrential rain and 40ft waves. The cyclone left 42 dead, buildings flattened and crops destroyed. Around 35,000 people sheltered in 424 evacuation centres, and 97 schools were damaged or destroyed. A state of natural disaster was declared by the Fiji Government, and they put a call out for international aid.

ShelterBox Operations Co-ordinator Phil Duloy says, ‘We already had some ShelterBox aid stored with Rotary colleagues on the islands. Our response team from the USA were on the islands as soon as flights were restored. Working out of the capital Suva, they are now busy visiting smaller islands such as Batiki, Lautoka, Kubulu and Taveuni to assess the situation and evaluate need.’

‘The United Nations estimates that as many as 350,000 people may be affected, over a third of the Fijian population. Fiji has 900,000 people spread over more than 300 islands, so this will be a complex international aid operation. ShelterBox is working in tandem with the Fiji Government and Shelter Cluster partners.’

ShelterBoxes coming ashore on Makogai Island

‘We are in constant touch with our affiliates in New Zealand, Australia and the USA, and are calling on large volumes of ShelterBox stock stored in Melbourne, Dubai and Subang. There is a shortage of timber for building as a result of the storm, so we will use tents in the immediate phase to stabilise the population and provide them with a platform for their recovery.’

ShelterBox aid is once again proving its portability, with ShelterBoxes lashed to the decks of vessels of all kinds, including the islanders’ traditional long boats. ShelterBox is also using the services of Sea Mercy – a US-based charity that delivers aid and medical expertise via a network of luxury yacht contacts, with a base at Port Denerau in Fiji.  

SBox in rib, calm sea

ShelterBox has already dispatched 2,000 LuminAid solar lighting sets, as many communities in Fiji are still without power.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that access to fresh water remains a particular concern. 67,000 Fijians had been suffering drought conditions in January due to El Niño, and most of them live in the corridor affected by the cyclone. Poor road access and communications difficulties are constraining the delivery of aid. On Viti Levu the UN teams found damage was most intensive inland, with some villages having 80% of housing damaged. An OCHAfield team has just returned from Koro island reporting that damage was worse than expected, with nearly 1,000 homes destroyed in this one location.

Photo Feb 27, 13 43 20

 

You can help those affected by disaster by donating here: PLEASE DONATE

ShelterBox Busy on Three Fronts This Holiday Season

Devastation left behind by Super typhoon Bopha in Philippines, December 2012.

Devastation left behind by Super typhoon Bopha in Philippines, December 2012.

Flooding in the UK, a super typhoon in the Philippines and a cyclone in Fiji, ShelterBox continues to help families displaced by disaster all over the world this holiday season. 

After a week of heavy rains the skies continued to pour down on already-saturated ground over the weekend in Cornwall, a county in southwest England, causing rivers to burst their banks flooding many towns and villages.

ShelterBox assisted the Emergency Services with rescue efforts by coordinating evacuations in Lostwithiel, where over 200 residents were told by police to evacuate their homes. Response Team members Joe Cannon (UK), James Edgerley (UK), Ray Filbey (UK) and Phil Duloy (UK) matched the displaced families with persons willing to provide rooms in their homes in the area.

‘We got the call for assistance from St. Austell Gospel Trust on Saturday and headed to the town with a few tents to use as a transit area with refreshments while families waited to be transported to either a rescue centre or another home,’ said Phil. ‘We also brought with us water carriers, cooking sets and ropes. With Lostwithiel being so close to ShelterBox headquarters, we were able to respond immediately.’

Read more here: SHELTERBOX

 

ShelterBox Responds to Cyclone Evan in Fiji

Photograph by NASA - NASA’s Earth Observatory

Photograph by NASA – NASA’s Earth Observatory

 

A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) has arrived in Fiji to assess the need for emergency shelter following Cyclone Evan, the biggest cyclone to strike the Pacific nation in two decades that has left western parts of the main island Viti Levu the hardest hit. 

To enable a rapid response to the disaster, the SRT members Owen Smith and Ross McKenzie are from New Zealand and were on standby to be flown out on the next available flight as soon as the storm passed over Fiji.

The category four storm with winds of over 200 kilometres per hour and heavy rains destroyed homes, caused flash floods and cut power. The Fiji times reported Lautoka, the nation’s second largest city, looking like a ‘war zone’.

Due to advanced government warnings, more than 8,000 people found safety during the cyclone by taking shelter across 137 evacuation centres, according to the Ministry of Information.

ShelterBoxes prepositioned 

There are ShelterBoxes prepositioned in Fiji with Rotarians that the disaster relief charity worked with on its previous response last April to heavy flooding in the same area. ShelterBox will therefore be able to quickly bring shelter and dignity to displaced families in need.

‘We are very concerned by media reports of the destruction in Fiji caused by Cyclone Evan,’ said Owen before the SRT flew out. ‘We are well prepared to respond, however, and will be doing everything we can to deploy ShelterBoxes quickly and effectively.’

ShelterBox Responds to Cyclone in Samoa

ShelterBox responded to a tsunami that hit Samoa in 2009.

ShelterBox responded to a tsunami that hit Samoa in 2009.

 

Flattened homes, uprooted trees and flooded streets. This scene of destruction is being described in media reports about the South Pacific island nation of Samoa, where a powerful cyclone has just ripped through. 

Winds of up to 165 kilometres per hour lashed down and waves of water exploded over river banks washing homes away, flinging cars into trees, cutting out power across the country and leaving the capital city Apia in ruins.

‘The priority really is to repair the damage to infrastructure, electricity lines and the buildings,’ said Samoan prime minister Tuilera Sailele Malielegaoi.

Cyclone Evan is set to bear down on Fiji next, where Fijian Prime Minister Voreque Bainimarama has warned his people to stay at home and restrict their movements:

‘Fellow Fijians, I cannot stress enough how serious this is, as every Fijian will be affected, but we must take preventative steps now,’ said Bainimarama.

The storm is predicted to be Category Four strength by the time it hits Fiji.

ShelterBox is mobilising a Response Team to assess the need in Samoa and stands ready to respond to Fiji, where ShelterBoxes are prepositioned for rapid responses to both nations.

 

 

ShelterBox Brings Smiles to Flood-Hit Fiji

Flooded roads and the hot tropical weather have not stopped the Response Team in Fiji from distributing ShelterBoxes to the most vulnerable families in the most remote villages. 

Saule and Usenia Qialevu and their three children had their home destroyed by the recent flooding in the village of Matavouvou near the city of Nadi. They are now living in a ShelterBox tent close to their house so they have somewhere to live as they begin to reconstruct their home.

ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member Lyndon Tamblyn (NZ) has been distributing the aid in the South Pacific island with help from local Rotarians:

Saule and Usenia and their children outside their new home with SRT member Sally Fletcher (NZ), April 2012.

Saule and Usenia and their children outside their new home with SRT member Sally Fletcher (NZ), April 2012.

Saule and Usenia were one of many families whose homes were utterly devastated by the heavy downpours. They were very thankful towards ShelterBox and Rotary when we gave them a box. Usenia was humbled by the tent and the contents of the ShelterBox that will really make a difference to them as a family.’

‘The ability to give this truly deserving family dignity, hope and essential items is a real privilege,’ said SRT member Sally Fletcher (NZ).

Etatoki village in western Fiji was also hit by the flooding, where some areas of land subsided into a nearby river destroying several families’ homes. The displaced families each received the gift of a ShelterBox, which were set up together on a family plot.

ShelterBox has brought these Fijian families new homes allowing them to start to rebuild their lives again whilst living in comfort and dignity.

Further boxes have been prepositioned in Fiji that will enable ShelterBox to respond rapidly if disasters strike there in the future.

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ShelterBox Team on the Ground in Fiji

A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) carrying out a needs assessment in Fiji has found that affected communities are cut off by high floodwaters. The flooding has caused extensive damage to roads and bridges making aid delivery conditions challenging.

There is widespread damage to infrastructure in the western part of the south pacific island where thousands of families have been made homeless.

The main cities Sigatoka, Nadi, Lautoka, Tavua, Ba and Rakiraki are the worst hit areas and have been flooded by up to two metres of water in places.

SRT members Lyndon Tamblyn (NZ) and Sally Fletcher (NZ) have had logistical support from local Rotary and Fiji’s disaster management agency DISMAC, including local knowledge of the affected area and transport.

SRT Sally Fletcher in flood-hit Fiji

SRT Sally Fletcher (NZ) in flood-hit Fiji

 

 

‘We have been working closely with Rotarians here and also DISMAC to assess the need for emergency humanitarian aid,’ said Sally. ‘But although we are in a 4×4 truck, we still cannot reach some communities as some roads are still completely submerged underwater preventing us from crossing. As the waters begin to recede, we will be returning to these areas. Tomorrow we are heading further north to see what the situation is like in communities up there.’

DISMAC director Pajiliai Dobui said to reporters: ‘If people in these areas have boats, we’re asking them to make them available, as the little we have is not enough.’

Although Cyclone Daphne has passed Fiji, more rain is expected over the next few days.

ShelterBoxes are en route to the flood-stricken country from prepositioned stock in New Zealand’s capital Auckland