Two interdisciplinary teams of oceanographers and damage assessment specialists from the Pacific Community (SPC) will depart today to conduct a week-long survey of the impacts of tropical cyclone Winston on the island of Ovalau and the southern coast of Vanua Levu.

Funded by the World Bank and planned in collaboration with Fiji’s National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) and Mineral Resources Department, these surveys by SPC’s Geoscience Division will assess damage to buildings, the status of water and sanitation, and the extent of coastal inundation in these areas following the devastating category 5 cyclone.

“Surveys like this are important because they provide both short and long-term insights,” SPC’s Geoscience Division Director, Professor Michael Petterson, said.

“In the short term, we can assist the government to see what needs to be replaced and help estimate the costs of rebuilding.

“In the longer term, we can gain a better uderstanding of the impacts of events like this, helping communities know how to build back safer and stronger, and improve future coastal planning to minimise impacts,” Prof Petterson said.

Findings from these surveys will be fed directly into Fiji Government discussions and plans to recover, rebuild, and rehabilitate these areas.

The surveyors will cover the southern corridor of Vanua Levu from Nabouwalu to Loa and the coast of Ovalau Island in the Lomaiviti Group. These locations were selected because initial post-cyclone images show that the storm tide contributed significantly to coastal inundation and damage to infrastructure.

It is hoped that similar surveys can be conducted in other areas that have been severely impacted by inundation, such as Koro Island and Vanua Balavu once the flow of humanitarian assistance slows.  Fiji government surveyors are simultaneously organising assessments of the north eastern coast of Viti Levu.

Meanwhile, SPC will also conduct training on Post-Disaster Needs Assessment for Fiji’s NDMO, as well as SPC staff, to provide necessary skills refresher for the upcoming nation-wide field surveys.

Media contact:
Molly Powers-Tora, Climate and Oceans Regional Officer,  [email protected] or +679 3249250

Useful link:
Pacific Community’s Cyclone Winston Spatial Data Resources Portal – http://gsd.spc.int/winston/