“Like the end of time”

Talaulia villagers inside the toilet where they sought shelter when severe tropical cyclone Keni made landfall Picture Sikeli Qounadovu

FOR 30 minutes, the villagers of Talaulia and Dagai in the district of Nabukelevu on the island of Kadavu thought the world was coming to an end.

Scared and not prepared for the end of time, villagers were forced to leave their evacuation centres and seek shelter in a toilet during Severe Tropical Cyclone Keni last Tuesday.

Inside the toilet of about 10-feet by 15-feet at Taulaulia Village, about 100 villagers mainly women and children crowded and huddled together when storm surges and strong winds brought forth by Keni sliced through the village.

“We were all at the village hall, but when the roof was blown off and waves came crashing in, there was no other place to seek refuge but the toilet,” Kelera Yani, 48, said.

“We carried our children to the toilet and they were crying.

“When we got inside, our children clung on to us, they were scared and all of them were crying. We tried our best to calm them down. But we could not contain everything and for a while, all of us were in tears while we hugged each other, believing we will be saved,” she said.

“The cyclone lasted for about 30 minutes, but what we experienced that day was like the end of time,” she said.

At Dagai village, after all the women and children had been taken up to the school, the men remained at the village hall.

“When half of the roof crashed and waves came rampaging in the village, about 20 of the village men ran to the toilet for cover.”

Inside the toilet of about five feet by eight feet in size, the village men huddled until the wind died.

“The toilet was locked, but we managed to kick it open and forced ourselves inside.”

When a team from this newspaper visited the two villages, the villagers were all helping out with the clearing of the debris that had littered their village.

** Senior journalist Sikeli Qounadaovu was on the island of Kadavu recently to cover the impact of TC Keni.

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