Fiji Time: 8:26 AM on Sunday 18 March

Fiji Times Logo

/ Front page / Archives » Article Index

The day writing had to stop

Sikeli Qounadovu
Friday, March 02, 2018

WHEN the Fiji Meteorological Service announced Tropical Depr­ession 08F was located 35km south, south west of Koro Island and moving closer there was a mad rush for safety on the island with villagers fearing for their lives.

It was Saturday, February 10 and strong winds, followed by the torrential rain brought back memories of the fateful day that claimed the lives of 11 Nasau villagers.

Residents of the island and those who were there for work purposes worked together to ensure villagers were taken safely, and in a timely manner,to their evacuation centre at the Nasau Methodist Church. Others preferred to be transported to the Tuatua/Nasau Primary School located at the top of Dokidoki Hill because of fears that waves may crash on to the village and take away the little they had.

Amid the heavy rain and strong winds, men pulled down any loose piece of roofing iron, dismantled tents, while women, girls, the young and old ran to the church and school with their belongings. There were also truckloads of villagers.

For those who could help, there was a lot to do so I put aside my pen and notepad.

A basic principle of journalism, or any other job for that matter, is to never let your emotions get the better of you. But we're only human and there will be very trying situations where we will fall short of the ideal.

After carrying a child and assisting an elderly woman to the church, I stood in the rain so no one could see the tears stream down my face. I paused, visualising February 20 2016 the flying debris, crumbled concrete blocks, the scream and cries, and villagers running for safety up the Dokidoki Hill when waves came surging into the village destroying everything in its path.

History was sort of repeating itself.

On Friday February 19 2016 parents, guardians, teachers and students of Koro High School marked one of the important dates in its academic year, their prefect induction.

February 20 2016 will go down in history when the second worst natural disaster in recorded history made landfall in the Fiji Group. Koro Island, the sixth largest island, being one of the worst-affected islands.

Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston started as a tropical disturbance, was upgraded to a tropical depression and then moved away from Fiji before making, its way back this time much stronger and as a Category 5 monster cyclone.

Fast forward two years later, a tropical disturbance had been upgraded to Tropical Depression 08F.

On Friday, February 9 2018, Koro High School was again a sea of colours as parents and guardians came in their bula colours to mark a special day in their academic calendar — the school's prefects' induction.

A day later and just like Winston, Tropical Depression 08F returned not as strong as the Category 5 storm but enough to instil fear and bring back memories of that fateful day two years ago that claimed the lives of five Nasau villagers at the height of the cyclone. Six died in hospital because of the severity of their injuries.

Later in the afternoon, the winds died and the rain ceased. However, the fear remained with me even to this day knowing there are still those living in makeshift shelters and Fiji still in the cyclone season.

With no other vehicle in sight, those temporarily on Koro for work helped assist the old to the safest place in the village.

In addition to village carriers, the Fiji Police Force has a vehicle on the island serving more than 3000 people in the 14 villages on Koro.

If one thing is for certain, Koro Islanders are still traumatised by Severe TC Winston. They do whatever they have to do with smiles on their faces but at the back of their minds, the memories linger on. Koro Islanders are surely stronger than Winston. We can surely pray for their comfort and solace.

* This Sunday; the church that withstood the wrath of the cyclone.

Fiji Times Front Page Thumbnail

Kaila Front Page ThumbnailFiji Times & Kaila Frontpage PDF Downloads

Use the free Acrobat Reader to view.

Code Inward TTs Outward TTs
CAD 0.65100.6320
JPY 53.691350.6913
GBP 0.35690.3489
EUR 0.40560.3936
NZD 0.69210.6591
AUD 0.64290.6179
USD 0.50070.4837



Exchange Rate updated on 16th, March, 2018

Today's Most Read Stories

  1. 'Forced to go'
  2. Man released on strict bail
  3. Speaker orders Nawaikula to withdraw accusation
  4. Former inmates raise concerns
  5. A-G clarifies ownership
  6. Seaweed farming costly for women
  7. Accommodation woes
  8. State to upgrade aging infrastructure
  9. Solar energy project
  10. Lost and found: Missing passports

Top Stories this Week

  1. Sims' 100th game Thursday (15 Mar)
  2. Cessna heroes Monday (12 Mar)
  3. Picking up the pieces Tuesday (13 Mar)
  4. Men urged to marry Thursday (15 Mar)
  5. 'Forced to go' Saturday (17 Mar)
  6. Man to appear in high court for wife's death Monday (12 Mar)
  7. A star in the making Thursday (15 Mar)
  8. Baravilala's ode to Cessna victims Thursday (15 Mar)
  9. The faith Monday (12 Mar)
  10. 7s hunt Tuesday (13 Mar)