News Release

Cyclone Winston Update: 1 March 2016

Water, food, shelter, medicine are most pressing needs

On 21 February, Cyclone Winston—the most powerful storm in the Southern Hemisphere in recorded history—struck the Fiji Islands.

44 people were killed. 122 more were injured. At one point there were at least 45,000 sheltering in evacuation centres.

Over 1,000 of those needing shelter took refuge in 12 Latter-day Saint meetinghouses.

Fiji’s capital, Suva, located in the south-east of the main island of Viti Levu, experienced high winds and significant rainfall during the cyclone, but was not directly in the storm’s path. The main storm track was across the island’s northern coastline and communities to the west. Further north, the islands of Koro, Tavenui and Vanua Levu also received devastating damage.

There were no Latter-day Saints among those who lost their lives. All Church missionaries are safe and accounted for.

Church leaders are working closely with government agencies and NGOs to bring food, water, tents, hygiene packs and other emergency supplies to communities in need. Assessments for short-term and long-term needs continue to be made.

While communications have been restored in many areas there are still some remote locations without power and phone coverage.

According to local needs, Latter-day Saint leaders are purchasing and delivering food and other supplies to members of the Church and others.

Church Welfare Services Director, Frank Stanford, meets regularly with officers from the Fiji National Disaster Management Office, as well as representatives of other churches and charities.

He says immediate needs are: clean water; food; shelter—such as tarps, tents and building materials; large tents for school classes; medicine for water-borne diseases; and seedlings, seeds and tools for people to begin to replant their home and village gardens.

Of the 38 meetinghouses of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the country, 27 have been inspected. 24 have minor damage.

Pacific Area president of the Church, Elder Kevin W. Pearson, was in Fiji during the cyclone. “It is heart-wrenching to see the destruction and hear of the heart-ache across the nation,” he says.

“We are praying and working for our brothers and sisters in Fiji. We will continue to do all within our power, working with others and with Heaven’s help, to alleviate suffering and help the people recover from this storm.”

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