There is now a very experienced management team, including three former general managers of Naitauba, working long hours each day to keep up with the multi-faceted Naitauba relief process. Many others are helping in all kinds of ways. It is so wonderful for all of us to feel the depth of response and support that Naitauba is receiving in this moment. There is the most incredible outpouring of financial offerings and people volunteering to go to the Island and help.
In this regard, we have organized the first wave of skilled volunteers to leave tomorrow for Fiji. They will get on a seaplane charter directly from Nadi to Naitauba (we still have no connection to Taveuni nor information as to whether boat charters might be available, so seaplane is the only immediate option). They will bring some urgently needed expertise, tools and equipment with them. All kinds of other supplies are being acquired in Suva, and will be sent on the cargo ship, the MV Sea Rakino, which is due to leave on Saturday. It will take roughly 24 hours for that ship to get from Suva to Naitauba. We are assembling the second wave of volunteers to go next week. It has been very heart-warming indeed to see how many skilled men and women are volunteering to go.
Aerial photograph of the destruction to the devotee village of Qaravi on Naitauba. Source: Fijian government, February 24th, 2016. (Click on photo to view full size image.)
Yesterday, we received the following link to images taken by the New Zealand air reconnaissance plane that flew over Yacata. This is the closest Fijian island to Naitauba, about 2 1/2 hours west of Naitauba by boat. There is a beautiful view of this island from the Matrix on the eastern side of the island. It is heart-breaking to see the devastation that occurred there. It would have been the next island to be hit by Tropical Cyclone Winston after it passed Naitauba.
This afternoon we also received the following links showing utter devastation at Vanuabalavu, the island just southeast of Naitauba, where Cyclone Winston made its first landfall in Fiji, just before reaching Naitauba:
We also received this selection of photos of destruction elsewhere in Fiji today:
Again, our hearts go out to these poor people, who need help immediately. It seems that the international community must step in quickly with ways to get regular relief shipments to remote places like Vanuabalavu. The Fijian government, given the scale of this disaster, simply can't keep up. They don't have enough people and ships and planes and building crews to handle a disaster of this size. So, thanks to all for your help and please continue to pray for all who were in the path of the storm throughout Fiji.