Vanuabalavu Islanders Recover Well Post TC Winston
As we approach the second anniversary of one of the strongest tropical cyclones to ever strike Fiji, many in the outer islands will be recalling the damage it had caused.
Many will look back to the lives lost, homes damaged, livelihoods swept away and how they have had to struggle to get back to living a normal life.
Tupa Rarawa, 32, of Uruone Village recounts what happened on that fateful day.
Mr Rarawa said, it was 3.30am when TC Winston hit Vanuabalavu, Lau and his parents, brother and his six-year old nephew were huddled together in a concrete bathroom block.
“As strong winds uprooted and blew away our wooden home and all of its contents, as the flood water level in the village rose to waist height and remained, we waited in the bathroom for five hours,” he said.
“My family and two other families making up a total of 13 people moved to a makeshift iron structure to live for the next one and a half weeks before any other liveable home was able to be set up.
“My family lost everything.”
He said before TC Winston he used to earn money through weaving mats, but from that time to date the pandanus leaves in Uruone were still taking time to grow and fully mature.
Pacific Building Soutions (PBS) public relations coordinator Atelaite Cama said Mr Rarawa who returned to his village to look after his parents had a hospitality background.
“He was fortunate to be employed by Pacific Building Solutions when we set up camp in January, 2017 to begin reconstruction works under a FJ$10million contract by the New Zealand Government,” Ms Cama said.
Mr Rarawa said his work as a kitchen hand at the PBS campsite in Lomaloma helped him to rebuild his home and put his nephew in school.
“I consider myself absolutely blessed,” he said.
Meanwhile, classes in Vanuabalavu started this week and school children looked happy as they entered their new classrooms. The classrooms were designed and built by PBS, funded and commissioned by the New Zealand Government.
Source: FijiSun Online, January 21, 2018