Northlander in mercy aid dash

By Imran Ali


A self-employed Northlander is among two Kiwis providing emergency accommodation and other survival essentials to cyclone victims in the tourism belt of Fiji.

Owen Smith accompanied Aucklander Ross MacKenzie to Nadi yesterday morning as part of a ShelterBox Response Team to assess the need on the island following the devastation of Cyclone Evan.

ShelterBox - an international not-for-profit organisation that provides emergency accommodation and other survival essentials to disaster victims - also sent a response team to Samoa following massive destruction and loss of lives and property there.

Mr Smith is an advanced Shelter Box Response Team member and one of 200 specially trained volunteers around the world who are deployed to areas that that have been struck by disasters.

He has previously been deployed in Bangladesh, Samoa, Indonesia, Tibet & China, Colombia, Haiti, Kenya and the Philippines.

Speaking from Nadi yesterday, he said the team would start work on affected villages on the west coast by helping in the construction of emergency shelter, delivering basic utensils for cooking and for water purification.

"We'll probably spend two to three days assessing what needs to be done. There's a lot of damage to trees and power lines in Lautoka but not so bad in Nadi," he said.

ShelterBox aid is delivered in pre-packaged kits that are designed to help an extended family to survive the aftermath of a disaster for at least six months.

The kits contain a disaster relief tent for an extended family, stove, blankets and water filtration system, and other tools for survival.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has announced provision of a further $2 million each for Samoa and Fiji to assist the recovery from Cyclone Evan.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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