Lau Group braces for Gita

VILLAGERS living in the upper Southern Lau wasted no time preparing for Tropical Cyclone Gita, which was expected to have upgraded to a Category 5 storm by midnight last night.

Villagers told this newspaper although there were no sign of an approaching cyclone yesterday afternoon, preparations were conducted to ensure the safety of all.

Tomasi Tuwai of Doi Village on Ono-i-Lau said the weather was perfect and everyone was doing their normal daily chores, but their village headman made his rounds yesterday morning throughout the village, announcing the news of the cyclone.

Speaking in iTaukei, Mr Tuwai said men in the village had taken down temporary sheds and prepared to store food.

On Vatoa Island, which is about a two-hour boat ride from Ono-i-Lau, island post master Iliesa Ligaleka said the weather was fine, but villagers had been urged to closely monitor the weather reports.

“The sun is out and the sea is calm, the wind is not so strong, but you know this could be the calm before the storm, right now everything on Vatoa Island is OK,” Mr Ligaleka said.

“The only news we have received so far is from the radio reports and we’re preparing for the worst, considering the fact that it could be just like (TC) Winston.”

Villagers from the island of Ogea yesterday made a quick trip to sea to get fish for their families before the storm hit the island.

Ogea villager Cakacaka Vosataki said a group of men went out fishing early in the morning and had only just arrived when this newspaper contacted them at 3.30pm yesterday.

He said the sea was calm and the women had started to preserve the fish by smoking it to last for a few days.

Paula Tukana of Waiqori Village on Oneata Island said the same when contacted yesterday.

Mr Tukana said the villagers were also preparing for the cyclone.

The National Disaster Management Office, on its official Twitter account on social media, said Tropical Cyclone Gita was expected to pass through Ono-i-Lau on Tuesday (this) evening.

It would also affect the islands of Vatoa, Fulaga, Kabara, Moce, Komo, Namuka-i-Lau, Ogea, Oneata and Lakeba.

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