Editorial comment – Remembering the Cat 5 monster

Devastation on Yacata Island following Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston in 2016. Picture: SUPPLIED/RadioNZ

ON this day in 2016, we braced ourselves as a nation.

No one had any inkling of what was about to transpire that night.

The early cyclone warnings were sounded and as usual, many Fijians probably would have brushed them aside.

Cyclones have not just popped out of the woodworks.

They are actually a part of our lives.

That’s the reality of living in this part of the world.

Many Fijians responded as they had always done when such warnings were given over the years.

There was a late rush to the hardware stores and supermarkets for supplies.

Homeowners went about organising safety measures around the house.

For those out of their districts, there was a rush to get back home before the cyclone struck.

Then the wait began.

There was rain which was to be expected.

The winds picked up in intensity.

That was expected as well.

Then it got stronger!

Now that was a totally new experience!

Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston went past us, it did so in a blaze of fury and power, a frightening Category 5 monster!

Winston left behind a trail of destruction that no one had ever felt in our lifetime. The power STC Winston unleashed on our country was shocking.

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

It was unpredictable. At first the projected path curved through the Lau Group and pointed to the southwest of Viti Levu.

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

However, as people braced themselves, waiting for it to hit landfall, Winston moved straight to the West, cutting through Lau, Lomaiviti, and brushed over Ra before curving down south again.

In its wake were flattened houses, uprooted trees, roof-less homes, flooding, frightened people, and death.

Scenes of destruction met first responders.

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

We will forever be indebted to all those who worked hard to bring back normality to the lives of thousands of affected people around the country.

Everyone from the disaster management teams, relief suppliers, NGOs, various charitable bodies, volunteers and the security forces deserve acknowledgment.

We can’t forget all the nations that came to our assistance in our time of need.

Such is the giving spirit of humans the world over.

We all should see Winston as a reminder of the power of nature.

We live in a country prone to cyclones.

We are resilient people, but as we go about our daily chores today, we should remember we are still in the cyclone season.

It pays to be prepared.

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