Norwich teen stranded in Fiji flies back hours before cyclone
- Credit: Archant
A Norwich teenager who was stranded in Fiji has managed to get a flight back home hours before a devastating cyclone hit.
Emily Rash, 19, had travelled to Fiji for a two-month volunteering placement at the start of January.
The healthcare assistant at the Norfolk and Norwich University hospital had been staying on a village with no phone service and only learnt about the strict measures to stop the spread of coronavirus on March 17.
But the former Norwich School student, whose visa had also expired on March 23, was unable to get a flight home as planes grounded and borders closed.
She had been staying in a hostel near the airport, amid growing concern for food and supplies, and felt ‘left in the dark’.
Miss Rash had received no information about a future flight and was unsure if staying in the hostel longer term was a possibility.
She then learnt Cyclone Harold, a category five storm which was battering the South Pacific, was due to strike in Fiji.
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The Fijian government declared a state of natural disaster and began setting up evacuation centres.
Miss Rash was able to get a flight home on the evening of April 7, just hours before the cyclone devastated Fiji, as she said operators wanted to move planes to avoid storm damage.
She said: “I just felt devastated for the country. It is utterly heart-breaking that such beautiful and kind-hearted people are having to battle two disasters at once – Cyclone Harold and Covid-19.
“People’s whole livelihoods have been completely destroyed, from their homes to their farms. The effects have been devastating. But not many people know what has happened because there hasn’t been enough coverage.”
To raise money and awareness of the disaster, Miss Rash will run a half marathon along with eleven others.
She said: “The unfairness makes me unbelievably saddened and angry. I hope we can all come together and reciprocate the love, care and support that they showed me and help the country and its people in their desperate time of need.”
To donate www.justgiving.com/fundraising/emily-rash2