Friday, 26 February 2016

Cyclone Winston; Brief report on our Marist Missions in Fiji

The Monster Cyclone Winston (category 5) has left a massive trail of destruction in many parts of Fiji. As I write this article a total of 42 deaths have been confirmed but this number is expected to increase as communication lines to the worst hit areas are being restored.
A number of our Marist Missions were not spared. Fortunately all our confreres in these devastated areas are safe.

Tutu Rural Training Centre, Taveuni
At the Tutu Rural Training Centre in Taveuni 22 buildings were either completely or partially destroyed. These were staff houses, dormitories, workshops, hall and kitchens. 

In the farm approximately 106 000 kava plants half of which belong to student farmers and 22 000 dalo plants most of which belong to student farmers as well have been damaged. 

The urgent needs in Tutu right now are, building materials with an estimate cost of $125 000, food for 25 families and 72 course participants. 

Fortunately water and electricity has been restored since Tutu has its own source for these two amenities. Their electricity is sourced from a hydro plant via underground cables so blackout was not an issue in Tutu during this time of devastation.

Holy Cross Parish, Wairiki, Taveuni
The presbytery sustained partial damage while the primary school had a classroom block and 6 teachers’ quarters destroyed.

St John’s College, Cawaci, Ovalau
The school sustained extensive damage to their school buildings, girls dormitories, teachers and staff quarters, the church, convent and presbytery. 

The only buildings that were intact but sustained minor damages were the 6 dormitories for the boys. But the ablution block for these dormitories was blown down too.

A number of the school buildings particularly those of wooden structures were completely blown down while other concrete structures still stand but completely or partially without roofs.
The church has half of its roof ripped off including the roofs of the two steeples.

The presbytery also has half of its roof blown away and its balcony upstairs wrecked.
The convent by the girls’ dormitories has its roof completely ripped off as well.

According to the College Principal Fr. ‘Ekuasi Manu the rebuilding of the school will be administered by the Ministry of Education. 

The heritage group has been to assess the damage to the church and so the urgent need for him now is the repair of the presbytery and the convent which the ministry will not take responsibility for. He needs solar panels as well particularly for the hostels as it might take weeks to restore electricity.

All the student boarders have been sent home. They had to walk from Cawaci all the way to Levuka town to board the ferry into Suva.

Fr. ‘Ekuasi hopes to start school again as early as next week especially for the Year 12 & Year 13 students. He is in negotiation with the Ministry of Education in the hope that he will get the provisions the college needs to commence school again next week at least with the seniors.

Sacred Heart Parish, Levuka
The Parish Priest of Levuka Fr. Petero Tagidrau was on visitation to Koro island when the cyclone struck. Koro island is one of, if not the worst hit areas by cyclone Winston.

However in Levuka apart from the wrecked fence, slight damage to the back of the church and the parish hall there is no obvious damage to the main structure of the church and the presbytery.

One of the two primary schools in the parish, Loreto primary school is on the mission lanin the village of Tokou is completely destroyed. On the 1st of January 1993 the school suffered the same fate when cyclone Kina (category 2) struck the islands and rebuilding took six months. Now the school has been struck again.

Dawasamu Holiday House
Our property in Dawasamu which is about an hour & half’s drive from Suva towards the north east of Viti Levu was destroyed as well. What are left standing now are two water tanks and the toilet block. Otherwise the two old wooden house which use to house seminarians for holidays and which was only renovated a few months ago have been reduced to shambles.

Fr. Pio Fong Waqavotuwale SM