Disaster Recovery for Fiji

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Disaster Recovery Following Cyclone Winston

On February 20th, a Level 5 cyclone named Winston, with winds exceeding 190mph and tidal wave surges of over 30 feet, smashed into the island nation of Fiji spreading death and destruction across her 300 islands. Winston tore apart the homes, stripped any edible fruit or coconuts from the trees, uprooted the crops in the field, and fouled the water catchment drinking supply with ocean water. It has left those living on the remote islands without shelter, food, clean drinking water or even the tools and materials needed to rebuild their shattered lives.

There are no roads to connect the remote islands to the aid and support available on the primary islands. However since 2012, Sea Mercy’s Sea Bridge of volunteer yachts has connected these “at risk” remote island communities to the health, education, economic and disaster response program aid and training they so desperately need. Arriving two days after Cyclone Winston, Sea Mercy was the first Non Government Organization (NGO) to deliver food, water, shelter and medical care to the hundreds of devastated remote island communities. The Emergency Response phase of operations will now transition into the important, but longer and more difficult Disaster Recovery phase for the remote islands.

Fiji's Remote Island Community Status

The "Four Pillars" of Disaster Recovery needs are Water, Food, Shelter and Medical. The following is a brief overview of the current status on the remote island communities following Cyclone Winston:

    Water Situation - over 90% of the remote islands clean drinking water comes from water catchment (roofs) into storage tanks. Some remote islands communities are reporting from 40-95% of their buildings damaged or destroyed. The dry season arrives in April and without water storage, they will be at extreme risk of dehydration and water-borne diseases. Water will need to be delivered until the rainy season returns in October.

    Food Situation - Remote islands are reporting crop loss of 50-100%. They are in need of seeds, starters and farming tools in order to replant (harvest is 3-6+ months out). They will need to have food and sustenance delivered to them on a regular basis for the next 6 months to avoid starvation conditions.

    Shelter Situation - With 40-95% of their buildings damaged or destroyed, they are in desperate need of lumber, metal roofing, and tools and construction supplies if they are to rebuild. This is a huge amount of construction materials.

    Medical Situation - The chance of disease and illness due to contaminated drinking water, poor nutrition, lack of shelter and/or crowded living conditions will be extremely high until the above needs are met.

A Sea Bridge to Recovery

Sea Mercy has just completed 8 weeks of Emergency Response (article) work following the devastation caused by Cyclone Winston to the Island Nation of Fiji and her 300+ remote islands. During that time, we had 8 Sea Mercy vessels that delivered over $500,000 in aid to the islands and villages in the remote eastern Lomaiviti & Lau Groups, and Taveuni and the western Yasawa Group.

The Sea Bridge - Logistics/Transport

The Four Pillar services (water, food, shelter and medical) that the international aid organizations build upon are crucial, however without a consistent and dedicated Sea Bridge (transport) solution in place to deliver them to the remote islands, these programs cannot succeed. Here is how the Sea Bridge will meet those needs:

Logistics/Transport

Although the Four Primary Aid Pillar programs (water, food, shelter and medical) that the international aid organizations build upon are crucial, without a consistent and dedicated heavy transport vessel to deliver them to the remote islands, these programs cannot succeed. In addition, the vast majority of remote islands cannot be accessed by large transport ships due to shallow lagoons and narrow entrances, requiring a unique transport vessel to meet those needs. With this “transport” piece being so crucial to our programs, our purchase of a Landing Craft (see below) design was the best solution for us to overcome those challenges in order to deliver shelter (roofing, lumber, water tanks, etc.), water production (on-board watermaker), food (tractors, tillers and seedlings) and medical supplies & teams to the "at risk" remote islands.

    Water

    Until homes are rebuilt and water catchment (guttering and pipes) and storage tanks are in place, the remote islands will be in desperate need of water (especially during the dry season from April to October) and at risk of deadly waterborne diseases. To overcome this danger, Sea Mercy will put the following resources in place to avoid the above dangers:

      Emergency Drinking Water
      • On-board Watermaker (10,000 liters per day) for the Landing Craft to refill local water storage tanks at each village
      • Deliver filters provided to each family on the remote islands until the water catchment and storage infrastructure can be rebuilt
      • Refill the existing village water storage tanks by the Landing Craft's dedicated watermaker (10,000 liters per day)
      • Consistent delivery of clean drinking water to the village (Landing Craft's return visits)

      Self-Sustaining Clean Drinking Water

      • Deliver enough water tanks, roofing and guttering for clean drinking water storage for village

    Food

    With the majority of farms and crops destroyed and the trees stripped of fruit and coconuts, the remote villages will be limited to what they can catch (fish) for food, or what can be consistently resupplied from the outside by vessels. With the nearest harvest of crops being 3-6+ months from planting, we will strive to deliver the tools, seeds, starters and equipment needed to replant these essential crops at the earliest opportunity.

      Self-Sustaining Food Operations
      • Deliver trained clearing teams with chainsaws and tools to remove downed trees from planting areas
      • Deliver a tractor with bucket, tiller and plow attachments to quickly clear the land and till large areas (and personal gardens) for replanting of self-sustaining food crops
      • Deliver farming tools, seeds and starters to villages for replanting

    Shelter

    There are two important aspects that rebuilding and providing shelter provides for those living on the remote islands; one is protecting the people from the weather; two is a source for water catchment (roof). This requires lumber, tools, roofing and building supplies to be delivered in large quantities to each remote village.

      Self-Sustaining Shelter Operations
      • Deliver initial lumber, roofing and building tools to the remote villages
      • Operate a portable Saw Mill with trained team members to convert the fallen trees into usable lumber

    Medical

    Following the devastation of this magnitude, the water, shelter, and nutritional deficiencies put the people at a high risk of disease. Having consistent medical care professionals visiting these villages and enough medicines available will be crucial for the next 3-6+ months.

      Self-Sustaining Medical Operations
      • Floating Health Care Clinic (FHCC) vessels and health care professionals are already scheduled for Fiji and we will send additional international and Fijian health care volunteers to meet the needs during the next 3-6+ months
      • Delivery of additional medical supplies to the remote island health clinics and hospitals and transport of patients

    Be A Part of the Sea Bridge of Recovery for Fiji

    Our Sea Bridge is only as strong and far reaching as the support provided from those able and wanting to help. Although financial donations can help meet the immediate needs, there are other ways to help build and support the Sea Bridge of Recovery. Here are a few:

    Volunteer your Talent

    Whether you are a doctor, farmer, builder, nurse, roofer, lumberjack, gardener, plumber, student, retired or any of a hundred other skills, talents, or titles; if you have a heart to help, then we need you. Getting started is easy, simply take a moment to Register Online with us and start exploring the possibilities.

    Volunteer your Vessel

    Sea Mercy’s Sea Bridge consists of owners and captains of sailing and motor yachts who desire to “Sail with a Greater Purpose” in the remote islands of the South Pacific. Whether it is for a few weeks or several months, we guarantee the time you spend as part of the Sea Bridge of Recovery program will change your life and renew your inner spirit and belief in mankind and what can be accomplished when we work together.

    Introduce Us to Others

    We have some of the most incredible partners who have helped us get the Sea Bridge started. However, the more partners and champions supporting the Sea Bridge, the more that can be accomplished and the easier it is on everyone. Spread the word about Sea Mercy and our Sea Bridge program for Fiji (download and share the PDF flyer at the bottom of this page). You will be surprised who will have the same heart and want to help. Whether their desire is to provide an important product or service, or their financial support, they can change the life of a remote islander in the South Pacific.

    Make a secure online donation below:





Or email any questions or introductions too: info@seamercy.org

Richard Hackett
President
Sea Mercy (USA)

Mark Drewelow
President
YachtAid Global

Sea Mercy (Fiji) Board of Directors:
Nigel Skeggs – Port Denarau Marina
David Jamieson – YachtHelp
John Ivey – Sea Mercy
Richard Hackett – Sea Mercy
Mark Drewelow – YachtAid Global

Non-Profit Status: Sea Mercy is a US 501(c)3 non-profit charity and a Fiji incorporated non-profit charity.

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