The Sea Mercy disaster recovery fleet is forming in the Pacific to follow up on the work done by the charity’s rapid responders in the wake of Cyclone Winston, which struck Fiji a month ago.

Sea Mercy has just completed three weeks of emergency response work following the devastation caused by Cyclone Winston to the Island Nation of Fiji and her 300+ remote islands.

During that time, eight Sea Mercy vessels delivered more than $460,000 in aid to the islands and villages in the remote eastern Lomaiviti & Lau Groups, and Taveuni and the western Yasawa Group.

Now, the emergency response phase of operations will transition into the longer and more difficult disaster recovery phase for the remote islands.

Cyclone Winston devastation in Fiji

Cyclone Winston

On 20 February, a Level 5 cyclone named Winston, with winds exceeding 190mph and tidal wave surges of more than 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.

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.

Disaster rescovery fleet

To follow up on the work done by the rapid responders, Sea Mercy’s disaster response director John Ivey is working in Suva with the National Disaster Management Organization (NDMO) and in charge of Sea Mercy’s Rapid Response skippers – approximately 10 vessels.

At the same time, the charity’s recovery fleet co-ordinator Jonathan Robinson is mustering the disaster recovery fleet in Opua, New Zealand and has about 20 vessels preparing to assist in Fiji at various dates from various ports this summer.

The recovery work in Fiji is planned to continue through October so there is plenty of time for cruisers to join in the efforts for those planning to be in the area

The fleet will be supported by Bob McDavitt of MetBob, who has offered free weather routing and Yachts in Transit/Gulf Harbour Radio passage support, which will help organisers to keep track of the fleet as they make their way to Fiji.

In addition, Juliet Abbot and Aaron Blackmore from Oddies Marine have offered to help out the Sea Mercy vessels and skippers with discounts on marine equipment and supplies.

A Sea Mercy spokesman said: ‘Fiji and its beautiful people are close to their hearts and they are visiting Fiji to volunteer on the Sea Bridge program in June/July 2016. Oddies Marine will give a discount to those vessels and skippers actively assisting Sea Mercy in appreciation of the amazing work of the organization, helping the people of Fiji and the Pacific.

‘Lastly, a big “thank you” to Marie (DOMINO) for compiling our collective Lau navigation knowledge and arranging for SAS Planet information to be made available to the Fleet.’

Recent additional storms

After the recent additional storms in Fiji, the picture of the situation in Northern Lau is still unclear and Sea Mercy is currently sifting through 110 National Disaster Management Organization reports to try to establish what aid may already be in place and what supplies they should bring from New Zealand.

More detailed information on the aid supplies needed for transport by the Sea Mercy fleet will become available once this process is complete.

Find out more at www.seamercy.org/fijirecovery