Fiji people say a thank you to those who gave warnings early and to those who in the height of the storm went out to save others. The Fiji Times writes it up this way.
Debt of gratitude
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
WE pay tribute today to the hard-working emergency services staff who kept the country operational and safe throughout Hurricane Tomas.
Police were among the first to take action, evacuating villagers and residents from low-lying areas of Udu Point and Tunuloa, Cakaudrove. A specific police unit assisted by Red Cross volunteers was moved to Udu, near the expected point of landfall in order to assist as soon as possible.
In Labasa, police officers were mobilised at the height of Tomas to protect the main town as destructive winds caused minor damage to shops. These men and women left the safety of their homes and indoor warmth to ensure that the people of the nation were safe and, more importantly, did not place themselves in danger.
On Koro, police were forced into a dangerous situation by villagers who failed to heed warnings to move to higher ground. When sea surges flooded Nasau Village, residents appealed for help to the very officers who only hours earlier had visited them and asked that they evacuate what was an obviously dangerous site.
The officers — despite the high seas and certain danger — immediately responded to the plea for help and moved men, women and children to safety. They did not complain about being put at risk or the fact that they were endangered by the people whose lives they have been sworn to protect. These officers addressed the matter at hand in a calm, professional and efficient manner. They are a tribute to the traditions of the Fiji Police Force.
In Labasa, firefighters braved wind and rising waters to move 50 people to safety. Earlier in the day fire rescue crews moved to low-lying areas on the banks of the Labasa River to help move families from their homes. There were people who refused to move until the water was inches from their doors and firefighters were forced to evacuate them as strong winds began to lash the town. This is the second major disaster in which the Labasa firefighters have acquitted themselves well and helped avert certain death for townspeople.
And there were Telecom engineers who braved the weather overnight in remote locations on Vanua Levu in order to restore communications networks as soon as the winds abated. They knew how important these links would be in order for officials to determine the extent of damage and decide where relief efforts must focus. These men could have remained in safe areas and deployed to transmitter sites only after the danger passed. Yet they chose to put the people and the needs of the country ahead of themselves.
Without the unselfish actions of these engineers, firefighters and police officers, the relief effort after Hurricane Tomas would have been extremely difficult.
We all owe the emergency crews a debt of gratitude.
And a PS
A miracle - Labasa shops were NOT flooded with Cyclone Tomas! Now that is a miracle as year after year the low-lying town area built on a swamp area - ALWAYS gets very wet!