Seven months after Cyclone Winston smashed into Fiji, RNZI’s Alex Perottet returns to the islands to find the recovery effort is still going strong, and some villages are taking their future into their own hands. There’s fresh green growth along the western coast of Fiji’s main island Viti Levu and the streets are strewn with sugar. The resilient crop has already recovered and happily overladen trucks drop bits and pieces as they chug along the King’s Road. The Rakiraki sugar mill was smashed by Cyclone Winston and trucks have to drive south to Ba. Almost seven months ago, children and their parents ran terrified to school halls as the category five cyclone lashed and tore apart small villages with its 325kph winds. Men died from flying broken glass and corrugated iron. Grandmothers were crushed by concrete blocks. Children drowned in storm surges, ripped from the protective but futile grasp of their parents. But now the seas are calm and the air is still. Small corner stores are back to selling the essentials – bread and rice, packaged chips and breakfast crackers, and small brown paper bags of crushed kava.
An old man with a weather-beaten brow smiles with his mouth half full of teeth and passes me my standard order of twisties and oreos. Branches of ancient trees forever twisted out of shape are hiding their scars with shoots of new green leaves; a baby’s cry and a pulsating stereo are all part of the familiar soundscape that says Fiji is okay and moving on.