DANVILLE, Calif. (KGO) --The death toll from a ferocious cyclone which tore through Fiji over the weekend now stands to at least 20. Authorities are beginning to get a grasp on the scale of the disaster and deploy aid to hard-hit outer islands.
Authorities are still having trouble communicating with some islands, including places like Koro Island which suffered some of the worst damage. And more than 6,000 residents across Fiji were staying in emergency shelters after their homes were broken or swamped.
Winds from Cyclone Winston, which tore through Fiji over the weekend, reached 177 miles per hour, making it the strongest storm in the Southern Hemisphere since record-keeping began, according to Weather Underground.
A Danville man who has family in Fiji started a charity with his wife a year ago to help people in their home country. Now, they're working to raise money to help those affected by the cyclone.
There is a huge need for money and donations in Fiji and the Danville family is hoping their fundraiser shows Fiji they support them.
John Lewenilovo lives in Danville with his wife Allie and young daughter Emma, but his heart and his parents and extended family live in Fiji. "I just pray that and hope that they're okay. Cannot draw any conclusions because I've been through a hurricane and it's a terrifying experience," he said.
Lewenilovo has spoken with his mom, dad and sister and they're okay.
They were in the capital city of Suva when Cyclone Winston struck Fiji.
The rest of his family, aunts, uncles and cousins are in the Village where he was raised. Phone and Internet service were wiped out when the cyclone hit.
While the family waits to hear from loved ones, they've started to raise money and seek donations for their non-profit charity called Fiji Family Aid International.
They're collecting clothes, blankets, diapers, formula and other household and hygiene supplies to send over to Fiji. "We feel so helpless over here that we can't be there for them. We just want to be able to do what we can here and this is what we can do here," she said.
Click here if you would like to donate money, clothing or supplies to help the those affected by the cyclone.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.