Media CenterCRS Commits to Emergency Response After Cyclone Winston Damages Fiji

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Cyclone Winston has devastated homes, agriculture, water systems and businesses on several islands of Fiji, directly crossing the northern part of the largest and most populous island of Viti Levu. Winston lashed the Pacific nation with destructive hurricane-force winds that gusted to 200 mph (325 kilometers per hour) overnight on Saturday, February 20, 2016, and into Sunday morning. It is one of the most severe cyclones to ever hit the southern hemisphere. 

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is supporting the Caritas Internationalis' network with an initial $50,000 commitment for emergency supplies. CRS will continue to assess and meet needs as they emerge and communication lines are restored.

At least 21 people are confirmed to have been killed, but communication lines -- including electricity, mobile phones and internet -- remain down in much of the country. The numbers are expected to rise as isolated outlying areas are able to report damage in coming days. The cyclone also wreaked havoc in the Tongan islands of Vava'u and Ha'apai the previous day, where Cyclone Winston hit once, reversed course, and struck the same location again.

Infrastructure is fragile in smaller villages, and traditional Fijian homes are made of lightweight material such as wood and straw. Such homes are likely to have sustained significant damage. Families in rural locations rely primarily on agriculture for their food needs. They will be able to salvage about a week’s worth of food from their damaged crops, but will then need supplemental food aid.

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Jennifer Hardy

Communications and Marketing Manager, Asia

Jennifer Hardy
February 22, 2016

Based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Jennifer Hardy is Catholic Relief Services’ Communications and Marketing Manager for Asia, based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She serves as the point person for media, actively connecting journalists with engaging stories about CRS’ work throughout Asia. She travels throughout the region to report in-depth stories on a wide range of issues,...More