Thank you so much for your overwhelmingly wonderful response to the initial fundraising for Naitauba cyclone relief. When we connected by satellite phone with Michiel Vos, the principal administrator on Naitauba, this afternoon, he was ecstatic—deeply grateful to all who contributed. It makes such a difference for the residents of the Island to feel our collective support. Everyone obviously gave all they could. What a great day!
The initial funds received make it possible to immediately begin to purchase necessities for the Island. The Fijian cargo vessel, the MV Sea Rakino, with a capacity of 70 tons, will depart from Suva at the end of the coming week and will bring emergency supplies to a number of the outlying islands in the Lau group. They have agreed to call into Naitauba to deliver supplies as we are the northern most island in the Lau group. It was wonderful to feel the logistical support from the main Fijian island of Viti Levu, not just for Naitauba, but for all of our neighbors in the Lau group who are, by all accounts, desperately in need of food and building supplies. The Naitauba support staff in Suva will be out purchasing everything from chain saws, to tools, to roofing iron, tarps, food, etc., to send on this ship. This is extremely fortuitous, because no one has been able to reach Taveuni yet, so we have no idea if charter boats would be available from there. And the status of our own boats remains very uncertain for now.
The Naitauba cargo and passenger boat blown over on to its side by the force of Cyclone Winston. Photograph taken on Naitauba on Thursday, February 25th, 2016. (Click on photo to view full size image.)
It was also so wonderful to hear that so many people have volunteered to travel to Naitauba as soon as possible to help with the recovery. We are hoping that the first contingent of volunteers might be able to arrive on the Island within a week’s time. Stay tuned for updates.
There is also a possibility that an email link to Naitauba could be set up via the satellite phone in the next day or so, for essential emails to and from the Island. This will make a big difference in our capacity to communicate with Naitauba.
A small group of devotees from Qaravi village managed to reach the Matrix, on the eastern side of the island walking along the beach at low tide. On the way they met a Ciqomi resident, who, in the typical Fijian manner, was in remarkably good spirits given what has just happened. The Ciqomi residents have been working together to re-build some temporary structures so that all residents there will have at least interim shelter and accommodations.
One of the many houses in the village of Ciqomi that were damaged or destroyed by Cyclone Winston. Photograph taken on Thursday, February 25th, 2016. (Click on photo to view full size image.)
Michiel Vos reported that the damage is severe at the Matrix, which is situated just a few yards from the ocean. The residents who walked there via the beach remained overnight and are still there today helping to do initial assessment and clean up. After they got over their initial shock at the state of damage of these temples, they felt the pristine stillness of Avatar Adi Da’s spiritual transmission so potently there, paradoxically untouched by the wrath of the storm, communicating nothing but inherent happiness and love. They felt undone by his obvious living presence in the midst of the unspeakable destruction.
Whereas the damage in the residential areas on the other side of the Island (Ciqomi and Qaravi) was caused by the wind, the damage at the Matrix was clearly caused by water, mainly storm surges from the sea as this Category 5 cyclone roared in at half-tide and 4 hours earlier and much stronger than predicted just the evening before. The really heart-breaking news is that principal temple at the Matrix, suffered truly extensive damage. The structures and roofs held up well, but the storm surges broke through the shutters and doors and vents, and there was significant water and storm debris intrusion.
One small outboard powered boat is now operational so people can get around the island by sea delivering food and water to the eastern side of the Island. They have not yet reached the other small boats to assess the damage to them. They still don't have power, and most radios have lost their charges, so communications both within the Island and to the outside world are very limited. They hope to get a small generator operational tonight to at least charge the radio's and satellite phones. They still have no running water so water is being transported in buckets.