Editorial comment – Heroes among us

Four-year-old Vive Winston Marama at her mother's rememberance stone at Qelekuro Village in Tailevu as her grandfather Leone Ravuataki watches. Her mother Sera Tinai died at this spot during the height of TC5 Winston in 2016. Picture: RAMA

SEVERE Tropical Cyclone Winston hit us with a blaze of fury and power in February 2016.

The harsh reality is that we live in a nation that is prone to natural disasters.

We have a cyclone season which runs from November through to April.

As Winston moved closer to the group, the weatherman warned us that the whole of Fiji could expect heavy rains with chances of flooding including sea flooding of coastal areas.

Prior to that, in 2012 Tropical Cyclone Evan left death and destruction in its wake in Samoa.

Its trail of destruction included upturned and damaged vehicles, homes and other structures.

Trees were uprooted and waves smashed onto the Samoan waterfront.

Rivers burst their banks and washed onto homes and vehicles and anything else in their path.

People were killed as a result of Evan’s destructive force.

As Evan picked up power and slowly developed into a Category 4 cyclone on its way to the northern edge of Tonga, experts were keeping their fingers crossed, dreading signs of it developing further into a Category 5 cyclone headed for Fiji.

When that happens, it is serious business they warned.

A Category 5 cyclone has the potential to blow the roofs of homes, and also extensively damage weak structures and houses, we were warned.

It also has the destructive power to uproot trees.

For those who were still complacent back in 2016, they were reminded that in 2012 we were fortunate because we heeded advice.

What happened in February was unheard of. It was shocking and frightening.

Winston left behind a trail of destruction that has taken years for us to recover from.

The power Winston unleashed on the country was shocking.

Picking up strength after Tonga, Winston developed into a massive Category 5 system that was frightening.

It was unpredictable.

At first, the projected path curved through Lau Group and pointed to the Southwest of Viti Levu.

It was expected to pass pretty close to the Capital City.

However, picking up power, Winston moved straight to the west, cutting through Lau, Lomaiviti, and brushed over Ra before curving down south again.

It flatted houses, uprooted trees, left roof-less homes, brought in flooding, frightened people, and there were deaths.

Scenes of destruction met first responders.

In the face of the horror were tales of heroics intertwined with sadness, frustration, and hope.

Today, we talk to people who speak highly of the resilience and acts of bravery in the face of the monster Cat 5 storm that dark night.

We bring you a series that touches the very heart of bravery.

Fijians are resilient.

Such stories are important for they offer us a glimpse of the human spirit, and the depths to which we can scrape to when life is at stake.

Heroes come in many shapes and sizes.

Sometimes, they are unassuming and are right there in our midst, far removed from the powerfully built stars on the movie screens.

We can only be thankful for them and their bravery and hope such stories will motivate us as a people.

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