2009-12-14: Cyclone Mick

Cyclone #1 now has a name, Mick. It is a somewhat bruising name for a cyclone and doesn’t give me warm fuzzies. I would much prefer a name like Lucy or Clyde for my storms as the name Mick conjures up a lumpy faced cage fighter with an oak trunk for a neck and wrecking ball forearms. For those who didn’t know, like myself prior to venturing south of the equator, hurricanes in the southern hemisphere are referred to as cyclones rather than hurricanes. I’m not really sure why as cyclone is often interchanged with tornado back home. I’ll have to add that to my ‘things to google’ list when I find an internet connection.

Regardless, Mick is now lumbering slowly towards the western side of Viti Levu, the larger island of Fiji. That name is also interesting as the next largest island, Vanua Levu, literally translates ‘large’ land. They say this is because it has more mountains, but I still think it is odd. Why not Mountanua Levu, or Talla Levu, or Highadanu Levu.

The rain and wind last night was ferocious. The sound absorption coefficient of our tin roof is quite low so I spent most of the night wide-awake waiting for the whole darn thing to blow apart. Our house was built after the 2002 storm that decimated large portions of Vanua Levu so it has anti-cyclone features such as metal strapping at every stud and ¾” anchor bolts securing the rafters to the walls. These don’t bring much comfort, though, during the roaring rainstorms.

The weather calmed for a spell this morning and Samalu stopped by to give us an update. What passed last night was just a precursor as the storm wasn’t even a cyclone yet and still 100 km north of Fiji. He advised us the path was projected to split the two large islands at about 6 pm this evening. We agreed to move to higher ground and discussed options. Later that morning more showers rolled in with intense strength. Samalu was informed by the Nadi Meteorological service that the storm was changing course away from us towards the western side of Viti Levu. With this information we decided to stay at our house and fortify the windows. We nailed tin to the exterior of five windows that will face the prevailing winds of the storm. We moved all our stuff out of the bathroom addition and into the original footprint area. We’ve also packed bags and food in case we have to make a run for it. The good thing about cyclones is there is plenty of time to prepare; the bad thing is there is plenty of time to prepare. I think we have packed and re-packed 10 times and re-arranged everything in our house three times. I even swept out below our bed in case we have to find refuge there. I think we are about as ready as two landlubber cyclone rookies can be. Not all is doom and gloom, however, as today was a red-letter day on the garden front.

After two garden overhauls and four and half months of weeding, watering, planting, and repeating, I finally harvested five plump cabbage heads. It was perfect timing as the rain has produced a small stream flowing through the center of my long bean rows and I’m not sure if the garden will survive another day of torrential downpours. I gave two stalks to Samalu for providing tin for our cyclone proofing, two to Papa for nailing them up, and we kept one for cabbage soup this evening. We are indeed ready for Mr. Mick.

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