Water and wind are amazing things and when they come together in full force in a cyclone or hurricane you can see their true strength; which is a seriously solid thing. I just experienced it with my first category 4 and possibly up to a category 5 tropical cyclone in Fiji. Tropical Cyclone Evan hit this paradise of a tropical island nation in the middle of the South Pacific over the past 24 hours. I have been in or around a number of hurricanes, but always on the mainland in the US; in Texas, Virginia, Delaware, DC, …never 3,000 km from the nearest land mass bigger than a postage stamp. It is a bit of a scary feeling.
I was lucky to be staying in a nice hotel just off the main island of Viti Levu, on the small, but attached by bridge island of Denarau – just about 20 km from Nadi and the airport and on the west side of the Island, which I think worked in our favor. The hotel had their sh@#t together. I checked in late Saturday night on my trek home to the States and on Sunday they gave us updates throughout the day. They gave us information about store and restaurant closings and recommended plans on where and when to stock up with supplies. Monday as the rain and winds started up in the morning, they put us in lockdown in our rooms after breakfast. Lockdown at the Radisson Blu, Fiji – I guess I could be in worse places for the storm.
I don’t how they did it, but throughout the day of rain and wind they kept electricity running with a back up generator and somehow even the hotel movie channel was working long after the local TV stations had gone down. They even kept internet working for most of the day. It was super slow, but I assume that was the other 500 guest in the hotel downloading movies online and checking weather.com and all. A huge kudos to the hotel staff, that went over and above their duty to even deliver a hot meal to everyone locked up in their rooms, staff that is donning hard hats to protect themselves from flying debris and gale force winds. – Vinaka – Vinaka!! – Thank you – Thank you!!
So the storm ended up reporting sustained winds of 175 to 200 km/h and gusts up to 275 km/h – The eye of the storm hit where I was about 9:00 PM, with full on winds continuing through most the night. I woke up to strong winds still around and some off and on rain, but also I woke up to one of the coolest things; a number of the guests in the hotel were all outside helping the staff clean up and pick up after the storm. I guess it gave people a feeling or normalcy, what you would do if you were at home, but also it was just good-hearted thing, helping out when help was needed. It was great to see… and do.
The sun is starting to shine now and most the place is getting back to normal here. I am not 100% sure how the rest of the Islands fared, but my thoughts and prayers go out to all here and who have been and will be in the track of the storm. Good thoughts and prayers!
Not exactly postcard worthy, but I wanted to share some pictures from the storm, here in paradise… – some before and after and during…
Before and after pictures…
Stay safe everyone – look forward to seeing you all soon!! Flights are scheduled to be leaving tonight and I should be back on the mainland soon!