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Villagers forego Christmas to rebuild lives

Maciu Malo
Saturday, December 22, 2012

THE people of Namara in Wayalailai will not celebrate Christmas this year.

Instead, their focus will be on the rebuilding of homes and lives.

Only four homes were spared the wrath of Tropical Cyclone Evan and for the unlucky ones, the category four storm will forever be etched in their minds.

The Fiji Times news team that visited the island yesterday was swamped with stories of the horror and uncertainty when TC Evan hit at 1pm on Monday.

Along with the stories of the ordeal, there were acts of bravery and courage like the grandmother fearing for the safety of her four grandchildren as she dug a hole in the sand to take cover from the unforgiving cyclone.

This newspaper's crew also encountered a woman who was trapped in her house with her 17-year-old daughter and granddaughter at the height of the cyclone for two hours before being evacuated by the villagers.

According to village headman Sunia Naikanimoto, the devastation caused by the cyclone was more severe compared to Hurricane Bebe which swept through the country in 1972.

He said of the 28 houses, only four were spared the wrath of Evan.

"This cyclone has left its trail on our village and has left many families homeless," he said.

"This is one of the worst natural disasters to hit our village as we could hardly save anything.

"Most villagers are left with just what they are wearing and even our farms have been totally destroyed.

"We will never forget this experience," he said.

Mr Naikanimoto said it was fortunate that no one was injured.

He said divine intervention protected the villagers.

He said the villagers were depending on the government and non-government organisations for assistance.

"We are in desperate need of food and we are pleading with the government to assist us.

"We also need help with the renovation to our homes and some of us need clothes.

"The villagers are now using whatever food is left in their farms to supplement with whatever food we get from the sea."

He said it would take months for the villagers to fully recover from the disaster.

"Our main focus now is to rebuild our lives starting with the clearing of debris and fallen trees in the village compound.

"We are concerned about the welfare of our children and we are requesting government to consider our plight and help us," said Mr Naikanimoto.

Meanwhile, a team of 42 soldiers and naval officers is in Yasawa assessing the damage by the cyclone and this would be followed by the supply of rations.





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