Disbelieve, Shock and Sadness
Super-Cyclone Winston destroys Fiji’s
Ovalau Holiday Resort
February 21, 2016
I left Ovalau Holiday Resort, and Fiji, on February 1, 2016 after staying there 4 months. See my prior blog posts. I had also stayed there for 4 months the year before. It was beautiful place. On February 21, 2016, the eye of Category 5 Cyclone Winston struck the area of the resort causing almost total destruction. It is said to be the most powerful storm in the recorded history of the South Pacific. My friend, Wendy, is still there and has survived the cyclone, according to a short, crackly phone call her daughter received from her 2 days ago. I was so relieved to be told that. Our cabin is, unbelievably, the only building at the resort still standing intact!!! Wendy said that the people (owners and staff) that lived in the resort (almost 20) are staying in our 2-bedroom cabin but all are safe. I found an aerial photo taken of the resort after the cyclone which is below. It is so hard for me to believe what it looks like now. I have been in several disasters (3 strong cyclones, flooding, 8.2 earthquake/tsunami) during my 10 years in Western Samoa, so I know the Island people and how resilient they are. They will get back up on their feet and start the clean-up, but it will be a long, arduous and expensive job this time because of the magnitude of the storm. To date, 42 people have been confirmed dead and that is expected to be higher. I had originally planned to stay at the Resort until March 30th but changed my plans in January to visit with friends in Vietnam where I am now. To say that I feel, in retrospect, very lucky to have left when I did would be a huge understatement.
I feel extreme sadness for Steve and Elesi Diston, owners of Ovalau Holiday Resort for over 25 years and their staff. Words cannot describe, so here is what it looks like now: