Our coastal village was torn apart by a devastating cyclone
Timothy looks up at the light in his village church where people go for shelter during cyclones and other natural disasters.
"On New Year’s Eve, our coastal village was torn apart by a devastating cyclone.
Before it arrived, the sky was crystal clear, the stars were twinkling and the calm ocean didn’t make a sound.
It was a perfect atmosphere for the celebrations; the smell of the roast chicken filled the air as our brothers and sisters drank and danced to music.
It was a truly joyful night until 30 minutes before the big countdown, when the weather suddenly changed.
Dark clouds filled the sky and a strong wind blew hard against our houses.
Huge storm surge waves roared and rolled speedily up the shorelines up into the mainland.
People were scared because many of our homes were made of temporary materials and were old – they would not survive a cyclone.
Waves smashed against the coral reefs and huge rocks from the sea were hurled towards the land, causing rubbish and debris to wash up on the shore.
Coconut trees were uprooted and thrown down, many coastal homes were destroyed.
The sea water and the rain water poured into the low-lying villages.
We were stunned at how quickly the weather changed as our new year celebrations came to a sombre end.
Some people were running around in a panic, carrying their luggage and other necessities to the church building, an evacuation hall for the community.
Others searched for higher grounds but some of us waited in our homes, shivering and scared.
Suddenly, the roof of our house blew off and the walls were damaged by the huge rolling waves, so we fled to the church for cover.
The storm battered our land all night.
On New Year’s morning, we broke cover and found the sea was calm and the winds had dropped, but our beautiful white sandy beach was covered with uprooted corals, dead fish and tree branches.
We lived temporarily with neighbours while we started to clean up and set up a new site to build a new house.
It took three months to rebuild our home, which we feared would be torn down again by the weather.
In response, the chief of the village and our people planted trees along the coastlines to stop flooding and dug wide drains behind the village to allow water to flow slowly to the sea during rainy seasons.
But there is only so much we can do to keep this weather at bay.
We expect weather like this during our rainy season, but in the past 40 years cyclones like these have become more intense and more destructive storms now form more often.
Warming oceans could also drive more dangerous cyclones like these.
We worry because it’s likely they will get bigger and more deadly as time goes by.
That’s why we need to come together and act now, before it’s too late.
Country: Solomon Islands
Photo or video credit: Daily Mirror / Collin Leafasia
Text Credit: Timothy Windbreak & Cinderella Sia
Date : 24 July 2021