Fiji counts the cost after Cyclone Ami
Catholic sources in Suva are gradually receiving reports on details of the devastation caused by the cyclone that ripped through Fiji earlier this month.
Fr Julian Fox SDB of Relpac News said Catholic communities in the North and East have been directly affected. He said that the death toll of 22 could climb as areas around the north eastern tip of Vanua Levu are reached. Most of the dead are vistims of drowning, including fishermen not aware of the danger.
He described damage to church property in the Labasa area: "feet of water inside the presbytery and Church with subsequent evacuation as waters rose. Classrooms on the ground floor of Holy Family flooded. Books, records and personal effects destroyed."
Fr Fox said that the Marist Provincial has reported that the Congregation's Formation Centre as well as the Young Farmers Program at Tutu has suffered devastating loss of cash crops. The Church losses were part of a pattern across affected parts of the country.
"Fiji rural families rely on these crops for basic food needs," he said. "Many now have nothing."
Tropical Cyclone Ami (NASA Earth Observatory)
Cyclone Ami Rips Through Fiji (disasterrelief.org)
21 Jan 2003