Fiji Time: 4:38 AM on Wednesday 22 February

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We remember them

Fred Wesley
Tuesday, February 21, 2017

It is difficult to comprehend how tough it was for thousands of people who were in the path of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston to stay calm at the height of the killer storm on this month last year.

As the wind tore into the country, thousands of people came face-to-face with the most powerful cyclone to hit our nation.

The Category 5 system was massive.

It ripped into homes, tearing roofs off, flattening concrete structures, sent in tidal waves, and damaged the marine ecosystem in some areas.

It flattened entire villages, and when it was done, 44 people were dead.

As rehabilitation works continue in many parts of the country, the bills are equally massive.

However one cares to look at it, the frightening reality is that cyclones appear to be getting stronger.

Winston drove through that message loud and clear.

Thousands of people were left homeless and some villages were left looking like battle zones.

Some families continue to live in tents or makeshift homes a year on.

As the President Jioji Konrote said yesterday during the multi-faith national service of remembrance and thanksgiving to commemorate the anniversary of Tropical Cyclone Winston in Suva, the victims were mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, aunties, uncles, cousins and friends.

They were ordinary Fijians, he said, and were once the backbone of the nation.

It is important that we remember them.

As the President said, infrastructural damage can be repaired.

It is the emotional impact of the monster cyclone that will remain with us though.

There have been many initiatives by the State to assist those affected by the mega storm.

Winston left behind a trail of mass destruction, and any form of assistance would be welcomed.

The onus though is on recipients to do the right thing.

Lest we forget though, we are still in our traditional cyclone season.

If there is one thing we should have learnt from Winston, it is the fact that we cannot afford to be complacent.

It is apt for us to consider the impact of Winston on the nation. It changed perceptions.

It inched out horror, shock and left thousands emotionally affected months after the storm.

Mind-sets have been rudely changed forever.

Lives are no longer the same for thousands of people around the country.

It falls on us to remember the dead.

As we do so in our own little ways, perhaps we should celebrate their lives and maybe ponder on how fortunate we are.

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