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All safe

Mere Naleba
Thursday, February 15, 2018

FIJIANS living on the islands of Vatoa and Ono-i-Lau located in the upper southern Lau Group could only pray for their safety as Tropical Cyclone Gita, with wind measuring up to 290km/ph, battered their homes on Tuesday.

Vakacegu Rogovinaka of Doi Village on Ono-i-Lau said the villagers were lucky because the Category 4 storm did not claim anyone's life.

Around 11am on Tuesday, the villagers started to feel the wrath of the cyclone as destructive winds blew off the rooftop of a house and that alone was warning enough for villagers to move senior citizens and children to the three evacuation centres — the church, community hall and Doi Primary School.

Mr Rogovinaka said by 3pm, the wind had intensified and this was when three houses were destroyed, including a teacher's quarters, water tanks and their plantations were not spared as well.

He said villagers had been preparing for the cyclone since Monday morning and the village headman made rounds in the village announcing that people take heed of the warning as TC Gita could easily become deadly as TC Winston that claimed 44 lives in 2016.

Mr Rogovinaka said villagers had seen pictures of the devastation caused by TC Winston and wasted no time in securing their properties. On Vatoa island, which is about two hours boat ride from Ono-i-Lau, its island representative to the Lau Provincial Council Lemeki Biau said although their farms sustained about 75 per cent damage, they were lucky there weren't any casualties.

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