Weather Watch: Survivors of Cyclone Evan need our generosity

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The people of Vomo Island, Fiji, hunkered down and survived the storm.
The people of Vomo Island, Fiji, hunkered down and survived the storm.

Earlier this week, just before Cyclone Evan slammed into Fiji, one of the owners of Vomo Island Resort, west of Nadi, emailed me asking for additional forecasting help.

After a look at the maps I was stunned to see Vomo was in the path of Evan - and the eye would pass over the top ... and it did. More than 50 people rode it out in the resort.

Here is their account of it from Nicola Alpe, the resort's marketing manager.

"After 9 hours ... we have emerged amazingly unscathed. It appears the gods really were shining upon us, as aside from extensive landscaping damage (trees and foliage) there is no structural damage to the resort."

Cyclone Evan roared over their tiny island as a Category 4 monster storm, winds averaging around 180km/h and gusting up to 270km/h. Huge waves, torrential rain and then - silence.

"There was an eerie calm for about an hour when we were directly in the eye of the cyclone. The sun was shining though and it was incredibly still. [General manager Wayne Milgate] ventured outside with a couple of staff members but quickly decided it wasn't right so they went back in.

"After a while the winds and rain started and held up for another 3-4 hours as the second half passed. It was very loud in the villas and some wind gusts shook them but everyone felt very comfortable there."

The email said everyone was tired but there were no injuries. "Three parties of guests chose to stay on and we had about 50 staff with us too ... The staff sang and drank kava for the first few hours then slept the rest. The others dozed and rested. We are all breathing a lot easier today - it's a Christmas present in itself."

In my initial email to them I said damage could be "catastrophic" but also that history tells us there are often pockets, even directly in a cyclone's path, that can stand up to the ferocity without damage. Many new buildings are built to withstand these fierce cyclones that are a part of life in the tropics. Fiji was also hit this year by deadly Cyclone Daphne.

Although resorts have cash and insurance, many locals do not. For them this will be a long, hard, road back to normality, and for those who have a heavy heart as you see and read about the destruction to our Pacific Island neighbours as Christmas nears, I urge to you donate what you can to help.

- Herald on Sunday

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