What Winston left behind: Death’s, debt and heartbreak.

$billion damage bill in the isles

ALONG the dusty road in Fiji’s Tailevu North, sheets of mangled corrugated iron mark the path left by Tropical Cyclone Winston. Up hills and down valleys the pieces of tin – some embedded, others twisted around trees – glint in the afternoon sun that death passed this way. What remains of a lucrative pine industry is thousands of pine trees, uprooted or snapped as Winston’s deadly cloak swept over these once lush green hills.

The native forest where light once penetrated only where the road ran has been laid bare. It is a wasteland, leaves torn from branches, the undergrowth shredded, bark stripped away leaving white, naked trunks. Where once was hear the sound of crickets, birds and gently flowing streams there is silence broken only by the buzz of a chain saw or the steady beat of a hammer as people struggle to rebuild.

So far 44 people are dead and the estimated cost of repairs is over $1billion. Not a village which lay in Winston’s path was spared. In some cases not a house was left standing. “We have nothing,” said Tailevu Villager Sakeo Tuinidrano. “Our home, our clothes, our gardens – all gone. But we are luckier than the families who lost loved ones.”

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