Letters To The Editor, 29th February, 2016

Neighbourly love Josaia “JR” Rayawa, Savusavu It is amazing to hear about the efforts of individuals who did not wait for the call to help, but in the true spirit of
29 Feb 2016 10:33
Letters To The Editor, 29th February, 2016
Letters To The Editor

Neighbourly love

Josaia “JR” Rayawa, Savusavu

It is amazing to hear about the efforts of individuals who did not wait for the call to help, but in the true spirit of ‘neighbourly love’ they just went with supplies of their own to lend a hand at villages. God bless these Angels of God whose work go unnoticed, but whose presence & quick response mean alot more to the people in desperate need.

Indeed, they were overwhelmed with emotion when seeing the devastation in sight. One shared to a friend, that even in the midst of the destruction around them, they still heard a call from a local villager outside of Savusavu, call out, “Mai Kana” (invite to come share their morsel of food). How do you respond to that? Just melts your heart to hear that.

At the end of of it all, as a matter of caution for the future, and for learning experience, we ought to ask why a state of emergency was not called, soon after the cyclone entered the Fiji group, even more especially when the cyclone was already categorized as CAT5.

As a resort, our management team led by my wife were making arrangements on Thursday night (17th Feb) to get majority of our guests out of Savusavu on Friday morning (18th Feb). I was in Nadi at that time so I just made sure, they found flights out of the country.

By the time, the cyclone hit Savusavu, we only had three or four couples who were housed at another hotel in town which seemed a safer haven, then. I want to personally acknowledge my wife’s leadership role in making sure her staff and her guests were safe.

Just looking at Savusavu in general, as a case in point, I came to know from my wife, that Savusavu town was abuzz with the normal Saturday business (19th Feb) when the cyclone hit at 11am.

One restaurant owner shared his clients were all having lunch when the waves started hitting them. As a result,they spent the night in the restaurant. Luckily, it was not blown down.

Local village marketers were there in town as if it was a normal Saturday morning.

Local bus transportation bringing people from around the Savusavu coastal areas and highlands were running as normal. Many were caught totally unaware.

Individuals shared they were barracading their homes even as the waves and winds were hitting. Most of those in town at the markets, if not all, scrambled to find a place of safety. Again, thankfully, no lives were taken.

In my humble opinion, authorities should have called for town to be closed on Saturday, by Friday 18th, 6pm, the latest. That would have created an air of urgency for all. With almost every citizen, young and old now with a cellphone, a message to call for a state of emergency could have been announced.

This is not a blame game, I am pursuing.

This is for us to learn from, as there are alot of questions, no doubt, that need to be answered for better preparation in the future.

For now, let’s get out there and help.

Government must not be looked upon as the only helping hand out there. Equally so, Government agencies must also acknowledge that there are many out there who can be an agency of help to get basic supplies out to the people, faster.

I say, Central command ought to consider de-centralising for the purpose of empowerment, so decisions can be made promptly and appropriately, to ensure that first response is activated sooner, than later. It could just mean a whole lot of difference for one life out there, if not all.

Damages can always be assessed after. God Bless Fiji.

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