Habitat for Humanity Fiji Plans Rebuilding After Cyclone Tomas

Habitat for Humanity New Zealand Launches Appeal and Offers Expertise

BANGKOK, 17th March 2010: Habitat for Humanity is seeking donations and specialist volunteers to assist with rebuilding in Fiji following devastation caused by Category Four Typhoon Tomas which ripped across the Pacific Island nation earlier this week.

Cyclone damage: Fiji is regularly struck by severe storms. Habitat has retrofitted homes to withstand cyclones like this house which survived Cyclone Mick in December 2009.

Early assessments by the Fiji National Disaster Management Office and the Red Cross indicate several hundred homes will need to be rebuilt or repaired on the larger islands of Vanua Levu and Taveuni. This figure may increase as reports of damage come in from outlying islands.

HFH Fiji staff from the national office in the capital Suva are assessing the extent of the need. They will continue to meet with government officials and other groups in the coming days to plan a wider response.

All HFH Fiji staff members have been accounted for and Habitat homeowners are believed to be safe. A team of Global Build volunteers from the US retreated to the safety of their hotel during the storm.

Habitat’s response is set to be supported by Habitat for Humanity New Zealand. HFH New Zealand is offering assistance, particularly applying expertise gained from its rebuilding program in nearby Samoa, which was hit by a tsunami last year, and more recently in storm-hit Cook Islands.

HFH New Zealand has started an appeal for donations and skilled volunteers to complement the work of HFH Fiji’s own construction staff. Donations can be made at

Fiji, situated about two-thirds of the way between Hawaii and New Zealand, comprises over 300 islands of which about one-third are inhabited.

Cyclone Tomas passed over the Fiji with winds averaging up to 280 kilometers-an-hour and waves caused by storm surges devastated many areas on Monday and Tuesday.

The cyclone was described as one the longest lasting and most destructive to hit the South Pacific country.

Habitat for Humanity has been operating in Fiji since 1991. HFH Fiji has assisted more than 750 families to date. It is currently working on a 100-house program, funded by the Fijian and New Zealand governments, to retrofit homes to make them cyclone proof. Habitat homes withstood the effects of Category Two Cyclone Mick in December 2009.

Habitat for Humanity has considerable experience in rebuilding after natural disasters in the Pacific. In addition to on-going projects in Samoa and Cook Islands, Habitat was involved in rebuilding in the Solomon Islands after a tsunami struck in 2007.