Cyclone Yasa slams through Fiji Islands

The Category 5 cyclone has brought flash floods and giant wave surges, forcing thousands to evacuate

Category 5 Cyclone Yasa made landfall in Fiji on 17 December, slamming into the island of Vanua Levu.

The devastating cyclone has brought winds of up to 250 km/h, equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane wind scale.

A nationwide curfew was imposed ahead of the cyclone making landfall, which included a ban on all public transport.

Thousands of people were forced to evacuate to schools that have been turned into evacuation centres.

This is the second time this year that the Fiji archipelago has been hit by a major tropical cyclone. With Christmas just days away, the disaster has put thousands of people to the test.

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Yasa quick facts

What’s the effect of Cyclone Yasa?

What is a cyclone?

How is ShelterBox helping?

Fiji Cyclone Yasa Quick Facts

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What is the effect of Cyclone Yasa?

The devastating cyclone has unleashed powerful winds, torrential rain and flooding.

Power cuts have been reported in the capital, Suva, and some areas are still cut off by floodwaters.

In Fiji, many homes are made from wood or corrugated iron. These materials make them extremely vulnerable during storms like Yasa. The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warns that even well-built houses could face severe damage.

The full impact of Cyclone Yasa is still unknown, but the country is braced for severe disruption and widespread damage as reports come through.

Earlier this year, ShelterBox responded to Cyclone Harold that hit the neighbouring Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu. Harold was the strongest cyclone to hit the islands since Cyclone Pam in 2015.

Devastation in Vanuatu after Cyclone Harold in 2020
Damage caused by Cyclone Harold in 2020 on Pentecost island and North Ambrym, Vanuatu. Image credit: Betty Toa/UN Women

What is a cyclone?

destroyed homes in India after Cyclone Amphan
A damaged home following the devastating Cyclone Amphan that struck India in May 2020. We have responded, providing shelter kits, blankets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, kitchen sets and hygiene kits with soap, buckets and face masks.

Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are all tropical storms. Cyclones are formed over the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean.

The South Pacific cyclone season usually starts in November and ends in April.

Globally, climate change is expected to make storms more intense and unpredictable.

They could also be more damaging, moving at a slower pace, packing heavier rains, and intensifying rapidly – as has been the case during this year’s record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season. (source: The New Humanitarian)

Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons explained

How is ShelterBox helping?

Right now, we are responding to disasters in nine different countries.

We’re working with our global partners to support families affected by hurricanes, flooding, conflict and more. ShelterBox is not planning to respond in the aftermath of Cyclone Yasa.

Cyclone Yasa comes at the end of a challenging year of extreme weather events, including a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season.

Find out more about the criteria we use to make our response decisions here.

See where we’re working

Disasters don't stop for Christmas

Christmas is just days away, but families in Fiji and around the world are facing disasters, conflicts and the added threat of coronavirus.

Please help us reach families and provide life-saving aid where it is needed the most.