It is an act of Mother Nature, thus, no one can control it.

Like other natural disasters, a tropical cyclone is also something that people dread even though they prepare for it. But despite preparations, the wrath of a tropical cyclone is always felt in areas that it hits no matter how prepared people are. Some are lucky to escape with slight or no damage to their properties while others face the full brunt of it and suffer.

The situation is the same at present in my homeland Fiji, where people are still picking up the pieces after a cyclone struck the country and caused destruction in some places. The worst-hit areas are in the Ba-Rakiraki region, Tailevu and islands in the Lau, Lomaiviti and Yasawa groups.

The initial damage from the cyclone is estimated at around FJ$1billion.

Apart from the Fijian government, businesses and organisations there have also gone to the assistance of those who lost their loved ones, properties or lifetime savings in the cyclone.

However, what is obvious is the immense international assistance that is being provided to those struck by the cyclone on February 20.

Well, as United Nations describes it, it was the category five Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston that struck Fiji and left more than 60,000 people homeless.

According to Wikipedia, Winston was the strongest tropical cyclone on record to make landfall in Fiji.

It says TC Winston was. first noted as a tropical disturbance on February 7 when it was located to the northwest of Port Vila in Vanuatu.

The system developed over the next few days as it moved southeast and acquired gale force winds by February 11.

On February 12, it intensified and attained 10-minuite maximum sustained winds of 175km/hr.
After turning northeast on February 14, Winston went towards the north of Tonga and then drifted back to the west, intensifying in the process and reaching Category 5 intensity.

Wikipedia says Winston reached its peak intensity on February 20 with 10-minute sustained winds of 230km/hr shortly before making landfall on Viti Levu, Fiji.

Fiji media reports on Tuesday said 43 people have died as a result of the monster storm and there was a possibility of the death toll rising.

The prediction on Friday night (February 19) was that the cyclone would cross right over Suva/Nausori, through the centre of Viti Levu and move out to sea off Nadi.

But instead, it turned right into the sea between Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, in the process ripping apart many homes along the coast and the islands.

TC Winston made landfall near Rakiraki around 6 p.m. on February 20, cutting off the power supply and communications to many places.

Prior to that, some people had already sought shelter at evacuation centres in Taveuni, parts of Vanua Levu and Viti Levu.

It was the morning of February 20 (Sunday) when the winds died down a bit in some areas as the cyclone passed and stories of survival emerged.

The aftermath and pictures of the massive destruction and heartbreak caused by the monster cyclone saw the international media arriving in Fiji, particularly from Australia and New Zealand.

As pictures of the destruction, the heartbreaks, the emotions associated with the loss of a loved one went out to the world, international aid started flowing in.

The New Zealand Government sent its air force plane to Fiji on February 20, hours after the cyclone had ravaged the group of islands, known as the Hub of the Pacific.

New Zealand was the first foreign government to go to Fiji’s assistance followed by Australia and other countries like India, China, US, Japan, France and Korea to name a few.

Some international organisations have also assisted the island nation and various fundraising events are being held by Fijians living in different parts of the world, not forgetting Fijian rugby players plying their trade overseas.

While New Zealand has sent its naval vessels, helicopters and air force planes to Fiji, Australia has also done the same and the largest vessel in its navy is already in Fiji now.

The HMAS Canberra arrived in Fiji on Tuesday.

It is said to have carried 800 personnel to assist in relief and rehabilitation work in Fiji and about 60 tonnes of relief supplies, including water purification equipment and medical supplies.

The largest vessel in the Australian naval fleet is also said to have carried some helicopters to assist in delivering food rations and relief supplies to the outer islands.

An Indian Air Force plane also landed at the Nadi International Airport in Fiji last weekend with relief supplies, including medicine and medical equipment.

On Monday, Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop announced that Australia will give a further AUS$10million (FJ$15.1m) to provide food, clean water, hygiene and shelter to communities recovering from TC Winston.

It brought the total package announced by Australia to FJ$22.8M (AU$15m).

Apart from houses being destroyed and thousands left homeless, Fiji’s sugar industry and the agriculture sector have also suffered a major blow, with damage estimated in millions.

But their tourism industry is reported to be doing normal and resorts and hotels there are encouraging tourists not to cancel their holidays.

With the amount of foreign aid arriving in Fiji, the lives of those directly affected by the cyclone will no doubt be made easier.

Fijians are known to be resilient people – they even smile when the going is not good for them and the common saying by them on social media now is said to be “We will bounce back”.

Until then, they are praying that no other cyclone comes their way. The prayers of Fijians all over the world are with them too.