I am not sure we realize how very lucky we were this past weekend.
As we boarded a plane on Tuesday to return home to Kate in Fiji it wasn’t our luggage that was weighing us down. It was a deepening low pressure system, a late season cyclone in the South Pacific, that was heavy on our shoulders. After 36 hours of transit and very little sleep we arrived after dark and had a wet and windy cab ride home. It was sheer exhaustion that let us sleep; TC Pam, a potential super storm, was still threatening to head towards Fiji.
But it didn’t.
Instead it steam rolled it’s way south through Vanuatu as a Cat 5 Tropical Cyclone with sustained winds of 250km/h with gusts over 300km/h.
Stop and think about that for a moment. Try to imagine the noise that wind must have made as it ripped islands, communities, and homes to pieces. Wind that not only tore palm fronds off and blew down whole trees but took with it all the buds and flowers that will turn into fruit and food for a nation of subsistence farmers. Then there was the driving rain and flooding, possible landslides and storm surge to contend with. Imagine living in a corrugated tin house and knowing that was bearing down upon you. And that you couldn’t do anything about it.
In Fiji, 900km away, we felt the very outer edge of TC Pam. We experienced some fresh wind and a little rain this weekend; enough to wake us up on Saturday night, but not enough to concern us. While Vanuatu was experiencing one of the worst storms the South Pacific has seen we had sunny skies.
Grateful doesn’t quite describe my feelings today as I hear and see more and more reports from our next door neighbours as they being the long process of clean up and recovery. Grateful doesn’t quite carry enough weight.
Our thoughts are with the Ni-Vanuatu people. A little shift of wind direction and it could have been us.