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Tropical Cyclone Yasa - Dec 2020

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The newly formed Tropical Cyclone YASA is moving in the South Pacific Ocean, between Vanuatu and Fiji Islands...On 14-16 December, YASA is forecast to strengthen, as it moves clockwise between Vanuatu and Fiji islands. Then it is expected to move south-east, reaching Viti Levu island (Fiji) on 18 December, with maximum sustained wind between 170-200 km/h. A strong wind warning has been issued for Rotuma island (northern Fiji), and for the central and southern coastal Vanuatu. A flash flood warning is in effect for northern Vanua Levu (Fiji). (ECHO, 14 Dec 2020)

Tropical cyclone YASA is strengthening as it continues clockwise in the South Pacific Ocean, between Vanuatu and Fiji Islands....YASA is forecast to move south-east, passing between Viti Levu and Vanua Levu Islands (Fiji) on 17 December, with maximum sustained wind up to 215 km/h. After that, it will cross the Eastern Division islands on 18 December. (ECHO, 15 Dec 2020)

Tropical cyclone YASA is forecast to move south-east, approaching Vanua Levu Island on the morning of 17 December, with maximum sustained wind up to 220-230 km/h. After that, it will move southward, crossing the Eastern Division Islands on 17-18 December and passing 415 km east of Tongatapu Island (Tonga) on 19 December. According to media reports, the authorities set-up 1,037 evacuation centres across Central, Northern and Western Divisions. (ECHO, 16 Dec 2020)

TC Yasa will make landfall on 17 Dec around 8pm Fiji time on Vanua Levu island (population 135,961) and pass over many other smaller islands in the Fiji island group as a Cat 5 storm. According to analysis by the Pacific Disaster Center (PDC), approximately 73,000 people are potentially exposed to widespread wind damage. Severe impact for outlying areas on Eastern coast of Vanua Levu in particular Bua Province, is expected. There is a 4pm curfew in place for the whole country and all public transport is stopped. (OCHA, 17 Dec 2020)

TC Yasa, with Cat 5 intensity, made landfall over Vanua Levu, Fiji, in the evening of 17 December. It caused heavy destruction to infrastructure, buildings and agricultural areas. The Government of Fiji speaks of hundreds of millions of dollars. It was the strongest storm in the basin since TC Winston in 2016 and the strongest in the cyclone season 2020 – 21. (OCHA, 18 Dec 2020)

Preliminary information indicates that some areas were severely impacted while others were almost untouched, showing a very uneven pattern of destruction. 04 persons have been confirmed dead by the authorities: three persons died from collapsing walls, one person drowned. One person is still missing. As of today, there were 7,731 persons in 183 evacuation centres, the vast majority (6,313 persons) in the Northern Division (in 133 Evacuation Centres). (OCHA, 20 Dec 2020)

As of 21 December, media report at least four fatalities, one person missing, more than 23,000 evacuated people across 183 evacuation centres and entire villages severely damaged. According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), YASA is likely to have affected most of the population of Fiji (more than 880,000 people). (ECHO, 21 Dec 2020)

The government-led Initial Damage Assessment estimates the loss of Crops, Livestock and Infrastructure at FJD 109m (approx. USD 53m). Some areas are still not accessible, particularly remote islands. First humanitarian assistance deliveries to people in need are taking place. There are still 159 Evacuation Centres open (mostly in the Northern Division) accommodating 5,346 evacuees. (OCHA, 24 Dec 2020)

As of 28 December, there were 84 Evacuation Centres (ECs) open, accommodating 3,206 evacuees. The majority of these centres were in the Northern Division (80 centres with 3,021persons), the rest (04) in the Eastern Division (with 185 persons). All ECs in the Central and Western Division are closed. Assessments and initial distribution of relief assistance are continuing throughout affected areas. (OCHA, 29 Dec 2020)

Damage assessments continue throughout areas affected by Tropical Cyclone Yasa, which made landfall over Vanua Levu on 17th December 2020 and affected an estimated 93,000 people. Most evacuation sites have been closed after people were able to return home, with 36 evacuation centers remaining open to accommodate 928 people. Humanitarian response is ongoing with the distribution of food rations, non-food items, and hygiene supplies. (OCHA, 4 Jan 2021)

As of 5 January, 35 Evacuation Centres (all in the Northern Division) remain active, accommodating 803 persons. Delivery of food rations and NFIs to open ECs is continuing. No schools are used anymore as evacuation centres. However, there are community members who cannot return to their villages, they will be supported with tents and other facilities to stay within the school premises temporarily. All schools should be ready for the start of the school year on 18 January. (OCHA, 6 Jan 2021)

On 30 January, Tropical Cyclone Ana followed a similar path as Tropical Cyclone Yasa but made landfall westwards over the main island of Viti Levu. TC Ana entered Fiji waters as a Category 2 cyclone but brought a lot of rain causing widespread flooding across the Central, Western and Northern Divisions. Impacts of TC Ana have been felt across the whole country. Worst impacted are the communities in the provinces of Macuata and Cakaudrove that were still recovering from TC Yasa. As of 2 February, Fiji National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) reported 14,755 evacuees in 422 evacuation centres across the country. Extensive flooding caused damage to infrastructure with 131 roads and crossings temporarily closed. All major roads in Vanua Levu remained closed cutting off supply of food and relief items to affected areas. There have been two confirmed fatalities and three people reported missing. The main concerns are increased risk of leptospirosis, typhoid, dengue and diarrhoea due to poor water access and standing water. Hygiene is a concern due to the lack of access to clean water. Early recovery efforts for livelihoods, fixing shelters and access to food and water are all required, acknowledging future cyclones may occur before the cyclone season ends in May 2021. (IFRC, 8 Feb 2021)