Jan and I, along with our granddaughter, Ebony, had started our Fijian holiday on Tuesday 27th March, 2012. When we moved into our luxurious ground-floor apartment at Wyndham Denarau it was sunny – just the way we like it.
After two days, however, the weather started to change, going quickly from bad to worse. By Friday the Tropical Depression was threatening to become a cyclone with very high winds and torrential rain. The seas were raging and a sudden flood hit the town of Nadi and many of the surrounding villages. Old people’s houses which had been dry in all the floods they had seen in their lifetimes were now deep under water. For the Fijians it was a disaster.
Nearby resorts were suffering also, with some losing power or water or both. Wyndham was the only resort not to lose either for the duration of the emergency. Here there was a generator which, if needed, could have provided power for three days straight. Here there was emergency drinking water and food which would have tided us over had things become that bad. Even the coconut palms around the resort had had the coconuts removed regularly to avoid accidents, something obviously not done in other resorts where the dangerous debris was scattered everywhere.
So we were lucky to be staying in Wyndham.
Bob Speed, the manager, had everything in his power under control. Outside his office he posted the weather reports regularly. On the first evening of the Tropical Depression we had a meeting and Bob told everyone the situation as far as the resort was concerned and the emergency procedures for any contingency. He organized regular meetings each morning to update us on the progress of the storm, the availability of road and air transport – things that were suddenly very important to us. He even organized one of the Australian Embassy staff to visit at one meeting. So, honestly, we didn’t feel at all threatened.
The main thing that impressed our family, though, was the Fijian staff. Some couldn’t make it to work because of the flooding. Some had houses waist-deep in water and some even had to spend days on their roofs until the water subsided. A few of the staff who were at the resort had to sleep there and the resort provided their meals as they were unable to return home. Most of the staff we spoke to had their houses flooded but whatever their plight, they were amazingly helpful despite their own woes. Their friendly greetings of ‘bula’ and their bright smiles never failed. And it was the same everywhere.
Jan took a bus trip organized by the resort to Namaka markets and the supermarket once the road was passable at low tide after the worst of the cyclone was over. She saw the worst of the damage to the roads and buildings. But the villagers still smiled, waved and called out, “bula!” as the bus passed. What wonderful people they are. The resilience of the Fijian people has amazed us.
So thank you, Wyndham, for running a well planned and well constructed resort, for the management for keeping us informed during the emergency and for the staff for being so wonderful. Oh, by the way, Wyndham sent ‘comfort packages’ to all staff affected by the flood, when they could reach them. That was so good.
Richard and Jan
Editor’s note: The resort has not experienced any permanent damage due to the recent cyclone conditions in Fiji. Further information is available on our website.