TC Win­ston

ONE YEAR ON

mailife - - Front Page - By MELA TUILEVUKA Pho­tos by FEROZ KHALIL

Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Win­ston was the strong­est storm ever recorded in the South­ern Hemi­sphere, caus­ing wide­spread dev­as­ta­tion across Fiji, es­pe­cially in the is­lands of Koro, Gau, Lau and towns such as Korovou, Raki­raki, Tavua, Ba and Lau­toka. With a wind speed of 185mph es­ti­mated by satel­lite, Win­ston made land­fall in Fiji on 20 Fe­bru­ary 2016. It was cater­gorised as a Level Five cy­clone and by far the worst cy­lone to hit the re­gion. Win­ston’s meta­mor­phism into a Cat­e­gory Five was a slow one. The storm was named Win­ston on Fe­bru­ary 10, when it was lo­cated to the west of Fiji. Over the next 10 days, Win­ston moved first to the south of Fiji, then to the east be­fore stop­ping and re­vers­ing course 180 de­grees. It was af­ter this about-face that the storm strength­ened ex­plo­sively in highly con­ducive at­mo­spheric and oceanic con­di­tions. Raki­raki Hard­ware Store man­ager Ash­neel Asish, who was born and bred in Raki­raki, de­scribed Cy­clone Win­ston as a night­mare. “It’s the first time I en­coun­tered a cy­clone of such mag­ni­tude and I do not want to see an­other one like that again,” he said. Asish lives at Wairuku just a five minute drive from Raki­raki town. He said they had to go to higher ground and the busi­ness suf­fered losses amount­ing to about $60,000. “We are cop­ing but at a slow pace,” he said. Raki­raki vil­lager, 77 year old Isikeli Naitura said he had wit­nessed two dev­as­tat­ing cy­clones in his time – an un­named cy­clone in 1952 when he was just 12 and Cy­clone Bebe in 1972 when he was 32. “But the de­struc­tion Cy­clone Win­ston left be­hind is by far the worst I have seen. Win­ston left us hun­gry, thirsty and to­tally lost.” Like many Fi­jians around the coun­try who were dev­as­tated by the storm last year, Naitura has a re­silient at­ti­tude. “We are peo­ple of strong char­ac­ter, we have picked up the pieces and moved on,” he said. “Cy­clone Win­ston tested us but we were not dis­heart­ened as we kept mov­ing on with our lives,” he said. Store Man­ager at Adam’s Su­per­mar­ket in Raki­raki, Manor Ku­mar said Cy­clone Win­ston was a fright­en­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, but she learnt a lot from it. “I saw the best in peo­ple of­fer­ing to help one an­other, no mat­ter how much they had per­son­ally lost.” she said. One year later peo­ple are still pick­ing up the pieces but spir­its are strong – stronger than the mighty force of Win­ston.

The hoist­ing of the Fiji flag and peo­ple man­ag­ing to smile for the cam­eras was a hum­bling sight as peo­ple tried to sal­vage what was left

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