Fiji Emergency Fund Update

June 1, 2016

On February 20, 2016, a severe category-five tropical cyclone, Winston,
battered Fiji with winds up to 325km/h and 12m high waves.
It was the most powerful storm on record to ever hit the Southern Hemisphere.

The scale of the destruction was absolutely massive – rooftops ripped off, houses blown away, power lines broken, trees uprooted and lay shredded by high winds, and debris massively scattered throughout towns, villages, and cities. Entire villages, including the villages of Nukubalavu and Nacekoro, where 90% of the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort Fiji (JMC Resort) and Jean-Michel Cousteau Diving (JMC Diving) staff live, were severely damaged or destroyed.


Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston was the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in Fiji and the South Pacific basin in all of recorded history.

In response to this crisis, Jean-Michel Cousteau and his Ocean Futures Society (OFS) team set up a Fiji Emergency Fund and immediately started collecting funds from family, friends, associates, OFS members and supporters. 100% of the donations have been sent directly to the surrounding areas of the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Resort and Jean-Michel Cousteau Dive Center; including the villages of Nukubalavu and Nacekoro…Thank You!


Winds that reached 325km/h (201mph) lashed the tiny island nation of Fiji on February 20, 2016 causing wide spread damages to coastal villages through out the entire country. Photo credit - Don Santee, Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Dive Center

Following this catastrophe, the funds raised by OFS over the past three months have helped emergency relief and recovery assistance by bringing food, water, sanitation, shelter and health initiatives to the villages. Volunteer contractors from Australia and New Zealand were able to assist in rebuilding five homes from the ground up and repair seven homes with new roofs in the local villages where most of the staff from the JMC Fiji Resort and JMC Dive Center resides. These homes are multi-family homes owned by both current workers and retired staff who we have known for over twenty years.

Don Santee, manager the JMC Dive Center and Chief of Expedition with Jean-Michel for over 35 years, was in Fiji within a week of the disaster to help distribute the funds. Not only were houses lost and destroyed but many of our staff lost everything in the their homes; stoves, refrigerators, beds, bedding, personal belongs, etc.


The funds raised by OFS for the Fiji Emergency Fund was sent directly to Fiji to help the staff of the JMC Dive Center and their family and friends rebuild their homes and communities. Photo credit - Don Santee, Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Dive Center

Ocean Futures Society has partnered with the Savusauvu Community Foundation and will also use the funds raised through the OFS Fiji Emergency Fund to help cyclone proof these villages and other damaged homes, repair windows in the Savusavu Hospital and make needed repairs to some of the local schools, including Buca School where most of the staff’s children go to school.


International volunteer contractors from New Zealand and Australia came to assist in the immediate rebuilding of homes in the local villages of Nukubalavu and Nacekoro, where many of the staff from JMC Fiji Resort and JMC Dive Center live with their families and friends. Photo credit - Don Santee, Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Dive Center

Ocean Futures Society’s efforts to raise funds are still ongoing; there is much more work to be done and more resources needed before the Fijians and their local economy are back to where it was before February 20, 2016, when devastating Cyclone Winston hit.

We will continue to keep our OFS Fiji Emergency Fund donation page active on our website, where 100% of the donations will be sent to the Savusavu Community Foundation in our collaborative effort to rebuild the Fijians villages, schools, hospital and communities.


There is still much work to be done in rebuilding after Cyclone Winston. Photo credit - Don Santee, Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Dive Center

Vinaka vaka levu, thank you very much, we are extremely grateful for your financial support. We thank you on behalf of our dear Fiji friends. We will continue to do all we can with your help and support.