24 hours after I left Fiji Mr MyOodle called me to say a cyclone had formed and was on its way, entering Fiji waters from the west.
For the next five days we were on whether watch, with me in Australia and Mr MyOodle in China and the Buddy in Fiji. Talk about logistics between three countries.
Mr MyOodle was delayed leaving Fiji because he needed to secure the house and our boat. This meant our Japan trip was now off so instead we headed to the Sunshine Coast for a few days and then to Cairns to visit family, all the time watching the weather.
I was always going to stay a few extra days and as I dropped Mr MyOodle to the airport we are expecting 100km/hr as the cyclone had turned and headed directly east straight back towards Fiji. By the time he landed that wind speed had been increased to 300 km an hour.
The 24 hours prior to the cyclone was full on, though luckily we spent most of the summer being prepared for a cyclone. We now know exactly how many last minute things there are to do.
Once everything was done and Mr MyOodle was lockdown at home I checked in on how the Buddy was coping. Apparently he been following him around like a shadow. He knew something was up.
Before I signed off for the evening I asked them both to promise me to sleep downstairs where there is less glass and less windows.
The night of the cyclone was one very long night for everybody in Fiji but weirdly was almost as long for me in Australia given I was watching what was happening online. Unlike most people in Fiji, I managed some sleep and had power when I woke up in the morning.
I knew communications might go down I knew it might be two or three days before I head if anyone was I ok or not I hoped this wasn't the case. Three hours after I woke up I finally heard they were both ok. Jet and Mr MyOodle slept on the couch. Actually they wasn't a whole lot of sleeping that went on it was Mr MyOodle was continuing checking parts of the house and using every towel in house to mop up the water that did manage to get in. We were lucky, our bedroom and garage flooded and there was no structural damage, many others weren't so lucky.
I learned that you can't lock your house up entirely because the pressure from the weather outside is what will actually crack the glass and as much as you don't want the water to get in, you have to leave some windows and doors open to let the breeze flow through your house.
And then the clean up began with no power, no way to town and a curfew in place everybody began the enormous job of clearing roads, cutting back trees and cleaning up. Power was another huge priority because we knew to expect it to be out for up to 3 weeks.
Jet Cavoodle coped enormously well given everything that was going on, but I was told that even he was over it after the first week of no sleep. No power, no fan, no aircon doesn't make for a good rest at night time. We were just thankful to have a house still standing because over half the country doesn't.
It's been three weeks since the cyclone hit and the first two weeks I spent raising money via a campaign called Food for Fiji, doing what I knew best to help the Fijians who had lost their homes. We raised $50,000 AUD in first two weeks and will reach $80,000 AUD once the last funds come in, some of which is thanks to you guys. Vinaka Vakalevu
Wednesday just over a week ago I returned home, nervous to see what Fiji was like post Cyclone Winston and to give Jet Cavoodle the biggest hug ever!
What it will take one to two years for Fiji to fully recover be assured though that people already getting back on their feet. The clean up of debris along in the past 3 weeks has been incredible. The worst hit areas and remote islands are going to need to help on an ongoing basis. We can't afford to set and forget even though our life is getting back to normal.
We have mains power for the first time in three weeks so today seemed like a good day to fill you in on where I've been and what we've been up to. I'd love to have more photos to show you of Jet during the cyclone but it literally was a case of survival needing to stay safe, save battery power and focusing on protecting property rather than grabbing the photo to take a few shots here's some of the aftermath from around our house just to give you an idea what it was like. The winds at our house reached 245km/hr and we weren't the worst hit area.
ps. During the two weeks following the cyclone Mr MyOodle needed to drop Jet off to our his Nanny who was care taking a house in another suburb. The suburb was one of the first to have power restored. There was one night, I'm told, where Jet and Va slept at the house with the aircon on relaxing while nearly everybody else in Nadi didn't have power. So even in the middle of a cyclone Jet still manages to find the most comfy bed and snuggle in.