New Assessment Puts Cyclone Winston Damage to Fiji at $500 million USD

UNITED NATIONS–Fiji appealed to the international community today for assistance to recover from Cyclone Winston, one of the strongest storms ever to make landfall in recorded history, as a United Nations assessment estimates damage from the storm to be around $500 million USD.

The death toll stands at 42 and at least 62,000 people remain homeless after the storm cut a swath of destruction across the Pacific island nation, wiping out decades of development progress in a matter of hours.

Emergency aid, including food, water, and medical supplies, has been delivered to hundreds of islands across the archipelago and humanitarian agencies are warning officials to remain vigilant for problems that frequently arise in the weeks following disasters such as this, including diseases like diarrhea, dengue and zika.

There will be an even longer process ahead to rebuild the scores of homes, schools, business and services leveled by the storm.

The severity of the cyclone, and it’s unusual track, has called attention to the impact climate change is having on extreme weather events.

“It is now impossible to ignore the impact anthropogenic climate change is having on extreme weather around the world. Small islands are particularly vulnerable to these changes and it serves as a reminder—as if one was needed—of the urgent need to redouble our efforts to cut the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for the crisis and help vulnerable countries adapt to the effects that can no longer be avoided,” said Ambassador Ahmed Sareer, Permanent Representative to the United Nations for the Maldives and Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States.

A situation report released today by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs provides further details for members of the international community looking to provide assistance: