United effort to clean up Nasau

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Will Singer (author), LSIS Helen Frank (photographer)

Location(s): Koro Island, Fiji

Royal Australian Navy sailors (L-R Back row) Chief Petty Officer Medic Paul Bodenstiener, Able Seaman Marine Technician Ben Ayliffe, Seaman Marie Technician Jacob Gray, Chief Petty Officer Physical Trainer Roger Roy, Chaplain Rendal Walker, Leading Seaman Maritime Logistics-Personnel Brendan Matchett, Able Seaman Communications and Informations Jamie Cuenca, Australian Army soldier Craftsman Andrew Cook (L-R Front Row) Seaman Maritime Logistics-Personnel Morgan Foster and Australian Army soldier Corporal Nicole Thomas together with two Republic of Fiji Military Forces carpenters at Nasau Villa (photo: LSIS Helen Frank)
Royal Australian Navy sailors (L-R Back row) Chief Petty Officer Medic Paul Bodenstiener, Able Seaman Marine Technician Ben Ayliffe, Seaman Marie Technician Jacob Gray, Chief Petty Officer Physical Trainer Roger Roy, Chaplain Rendal Walker, Leading Seaman Maritime Logistics-Personnel Brendan Matchett, Able Seaman Communications and Informations Jamie Cuenca, Australian Army soldier Craftsman Andrew Cook (L-R Front Row) Seaman Maritime Logistics-Personnel Morgan Foster and Australian Army soldier Corporal Nicole Thomas together with two Republic of Fiji Military Forces carpenters at Nasau Villa

Australian Defence Force personnel deployed with Operation FIJI ASSIST have conducted work parties with the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, to help clean up the village of Nasau on Koro Island after it was struck by Tropical Cyclone Winston on 20 February.

Personnel onboard HMAS Canberra were tasked to come ashore and assist with the removal of debris, as part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade- led Australian whole-of-government relief mission at the request of the Fijian authorities.

The cyclone’s destructive winds left a debris field ranging from palm fronds and broken glass, through to damaged white goods and major structural components from houses.

The workforce spent the day separating rubble, gathering organic rubbish, stacking timber and salvaging tin.

Materials that could be recycled and reused were salvaged for later use in housing and other structures.

Engineers from the Brisbane based 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment worked with their Fijian counterparts, repaired a school’s corrugated roof and cleared fallen trees.

Royal Australian Navy Chaplain Max Walker said the villagers were happy to see the Australians and Fijians working together to clear the debris.

“People were glad to have us there; the local people saw hope,” Chaplain Walker said.
 
Captain Brett Sonter, Commander of Joint Task Force 635, which was raised to support the relief effort, said as with any natural disaster the first steps in cleaning up are always the hardest.

“When faced with significant destruction of property, cleaning up and finding order is one of the most difficult things a victim has to deal with,” Captain Sonter said.

“Sometimes all one needs to recover is to be given a helping hand.”