Editorial Comment: In the aftermath of Harold

Nabukelevu-i-ra villager Jone Yaqona with his daughter Navisa Adibula standing on the foundation of their home which was blown away when category 4 TC Harold hit Kadavu last month. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

When Tropical Cyclone Harold struck last month, it released enough energy to shatter hopes and aspirations of those directly impacted, or caught along its path.

For the people of Kadavu, it struck with terrifying force, lifting some homes off their base, flattening others, damaging many and destroying others. Our team on Kadavu arrived there to scenes of devastation this week.

It has been more than a month now since Harold, yet the devastation is still evident. Mountainsides that once brimmed with healthy trees have been reduced to bare trunks standing. Plantations were destroyed.

That would have been a major source of income for the rebuilding process. It’s a factor that is causing frustration, concern and uncertainty.

There is a touch of fear of the unknown.

The impact of COVID-19 lingers as well. The Category 4 storm tore a trail of destruction through the island. In his interview yesterday, Jone Yaqona said when TC Harold destroyed his house last month, it also destroyed his family’s dreams.

It took away everything they had worked so hard to achieve — a cosy home, a shelter from the elements and the culmination of years of sacrifice.

The Nabukelevu-i-ra, Kadavu, farmer said he was uncertain of what the future would hold for him and his family.

“Harold took everything from us and we now have to start from scratch,” the 54-year-old said.

Adding salt to the wound, the yaqona he was counting on to finance the rebuilding of their house had also been destroyed by Harold.

“I solely depend on my yaqona because that is the only means of survival for my family but now I really don’t know what to do.”

Mr Yaqona and his family were now sheltering in a small corrugated iron house. As we continue to fight the good fight, to keep the COVID-19 pandemic at bay, we are reminded about the impact of TC Harold on many people.

It’s not a pleasant scenario at all. It’s made worse for people directly impacted by TC Harold.

In the face of the devastation, we are reminded about the resilience of Fijians. There are many stories of bravery, sacrifice, hurt, sadness, frustration and hope.

Those affected need support to rebuild their lives.

Such stories should serve as reminders of the human spirit and the fact that the rebuilding phase is part of the process of getting back on our feet.

Making the commitment to take that first step isn’t easy, but circumstances dictate that it must be done.

Loved ones bank on decision makers at the village level to bring back some semblance of order in their lives. There may be great uncertainty, but hope can be a great motivator. Today we share stories from the people of Kadavu.

They are stories that should be told. If not for our information only, then they must inch out some acceptance of life, and the fact that we live under different circumstances, our journeys taking different paths.

We are impacted by circumstances differently, yet we are all Fijians.

More Stories