Disasters are always hard to handle, but imagine being 10,000 kilometres away when it strikes. 

Peni Lutudromu found out this weekend that his home village on Koro Island, Fiji, was decimated in Cyclone Winston, the most powerful storm to hit the island nation in history. Lutudromu is best known as coach of the University of Regina's rugby team.


Regina man Peni Lutudromu's home village on Koro Island in Fiji has been destroyed in Cyclone Winston. (Government of Fiji)

Most of the Regina man's family lives on the island — his parents, brother, aunts, uncles and six nieces and nephews.

When he saw the government-released photos of the damage, he was anxiously awaiting news of their safety. 

"Every news in internet I saw, and then I was thinking, how my mom and dad and my family survive?"


Lutudromu had to wait for days for any word on whether his parents and other family members survived the cyclone. (Peni Lutudromu)

Days went by with no word, and Lutudromu feared the worst. To date 29 people have been found dead, with ten being from his village. 

Then yesterday morning, he received the most important three-minute phone call of his life. 

"I heard him calling my dad. His name loud on speaker. I was so happy," he said.  

He found out in that phone call all his family members survived.

But the next moment left Lutudromu with a heavy heart, as his father came to the phone. 

"All he said... 'We lost everything son.'"

koro island fiji cyclone winston feb 21 2016

Ten residents of Koro Island were killed in the cyclone. (Government of Fiji)

Lutudromu said there is nothing left of his village except shells of buildings and scraps of possessions. Everything needs to be rebuilt. 

And with a population of less than 5,000 on Koro Island, Lutudromu has lost close friends as well.

Rugby help

The experience has been devastating, but Lutudromu says he's had an unending source of support in this troubling time — the rugby community.  

He said he's received more than 200 calls from the community since news of the cyclone broke, but the support doesn't stop there.  

On Wednesday night, Rugby Canada will be holding a meeting in Regina to coordinate fundraising for Lutudromu's family and village to help rebuild.  

The family has also set up a GoFundMe page, which reached more than half of its $10,000 goal within 8 hours. 


Peni Lutudromu's house on Koro Island has been completely destroyed. (Peni Lutudromu)