Feature

New Storm Brings Back Painful Memories For Labasa Resident

As he joined many people in the North battening down against a tropical depression TD04F developed into a cyclone this morning, he prayed that it would veer away from Labasa.
17 Jan 2020 10:46
New Storm  Brings Back Painful Memories For Labasa Resident
Vishnu Deo, 76, with his son Gyan Chand and daughter in-law Anila Devi pointing at the vegetable farm as rain covers the mountains at Korotari in Labasa on January 16, 2020. Photo: Shratika Naidu

Labasa resident Vishnu Deo is worried about an impending storm that is predicted to hit Labasa today.

For the 76-year-old, it brings back painful vivid memories of the tragic death of nine family members who perished in floodwaters during Cyclone Ami in 2003 at Korotari.

As he joined many people in the North battening down against a tropical depression TD04F developed into a cyclone this morning, he prayed that it would veer away from Labasa.

Ami was one of the big cyclones to hit Vanua Levu. It was followed by Tomas in 2007 and TC Winston in 2016.

He was in tears when he recalled how his mother, Suk Raji, died in the flood.

The father of four children is living with his eldest son, Gyan Chand, and daughter-in-law Anila Devi.

“Everyone is worried about the approaching cyclone,” he said.

“Previous experience has taught us not to take any chances.”

When Fiji Sun visited them yesterday, Mr. Chand was securing his four and a half-acre vegetable farm; Mrs. Devi was securing her livestock and Mr. Deo was trying to figure out how to protect household items so in case their house gets flooded.

Mr Chand, 53, a vegetable farmer said during TC Ami there was a big flood.

“We saw the Korotari River bank burst and water got inside our house,” Mr. Chand said.

“My wife and my only child, Angylishna Asha and I ran for our lives to higher ground but the water covered the roads.

So we had to escape to a sugarcane farm and the water level was rising

“During that time my grandmother, two aunties, an uncle, one nephew and four nieces drowned while crossing the flooded river. Three bodies were never recovered.

“My daughter also was washed away in the flood.

“I pushed my way forward and grabbed a hold of her hand to save her.”

Mrs Devi, 47, said thousands of dollars of damage was done.

“After TC Ami, in 2007 there was Cyclone Tomas and this time also Korotari River bank burst and water entered our home,” Mrs Devi said.

“We were seeking shelter in our church, Holy Hand Church in Nakama, Labasa.

When we returned the next day we saw up to knee level water and mud inside the house and again thousands of dollars of household items were damaged.

“We can’t imagine to go through another suffering again.”

Their only child, Angylishna Asha, 27, who is married and residing at Albany, New Zealand told Fiji Sun that she was worried about her family.

“Cyclone Ami was like a nightmare because it happened around 3 am,” she said.

“I was in Year Four that time.

“I only cried when I saw dead bodies, farms destroyed, house damaged. At this time my husband Benjamin Chand and I can only pray for our family.”

Edited by Nemani Delaibatiki

Feedback: shratikan@fijisun.com.fj



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