Tropical cyclone Winston made landfall on Fiji’s main island, Vitu Levu, at 18:00 local time. With wind gusts reaching 195mph, the category five storm is the strongest storm to hit Fiji in recorded history, and may also be the strongest cyclone ever recorded in the southern hemisphere.
758 evacuation centers across Fiji are in operation and there is a nationwide curfew in place as gale-force winds and torrential rain batter the islands. Reliable information regarding the full impact of the cyclone is unlikely to emerge until disaster assessments are conducted after the storm subsides.
Earlier this week, on its way to Fiji, Winston passed Tonga’s island of Vava’u as a category 2 storm. It then took an unusual path, doubling back to strike the island a second time as a category 4 storm. Tonga’s National Emergency Management Office reports minor losses, with an estimated 200 homes damaged.
Direct Relief’s Response
Through its hurricane readiness initiative, Direct Relief has prepositioned an emergency medical module with Fiji’s Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Services centre. The module contains enough supplies to treat 5,000 people for a month following a disaster. The life-saving materials in the modules include antibiotics, syringes, and medications to treat conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and severe allergic reactions.
In times of emergency, clinics and hospitals are often underequipped to handle the large influx of patients. The pre-positioning of supplies eliminates delivery delays and enables medical professionals to treat injured patients on-site when an emergency strikes.
In addition to prepositioned medical supplies, Direct Relief is preparing to ship four pallets of emergency medical resources to the Savusavu Community Foundation, a local Fijian health organization, and has contacted Fiji’s Chief Pharmacist and the Fijian National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) to offer immediate assistance.
Direct Relief will continue to monitor the situation closely as it develops over the next 48 hours.