In early April Fiji was hit by a very late season small cyclone with winds reaching to 60 miles per hour. More damaging than the winds was the massive amount of rain that poured down flooding the town of Nadi in 10’+ of water as the Nadi River spilled over its banks.
This created a fire drill situation for WaterWays and our partners in Fiji Tavarua and Namotu Islands as well as Air Pacific, Fiji’s national carrier. Due to the flooding and high winds all flights in and out of Fiji were cancelled for a 5 day period. The guests we had staying on Tavarua and Namotu were stuck and the passengers we had scheduled to depart on Thursday March 29 were stuck in Los Angeles.
All parties involved, including the guests, kept a good attitude and did their best to deal with the issues and find a resolve to the many individual dramas created.
Some passengers took each opportunity to get off the islands, back to the mainland and out on the occasional flight that was able to depart to Australia or Hawaii. Many passengers decided the best place to stay was on Namotu or Tavarua Islands which still had food, power and plenty of cold beer. In the end, thanks to the efforts of each party everybody was able to make it home safely but many passengers were forced to leave their luggage behind due the mode of transportation necessary to make a quick run to the airport (helicopter, small boat, 4×4 vehicle etc).
Luggage left behind which has never been “Checked In” with an airline is not the responsibility of the airline to return to passengers; nor is it the responsibility of the resort properties or travel agents to bear the work and associated expense of returning left luggage.
However, through the combined efforts of Tavarua, Namotu, Air Pacific and WaterWays we were able to get the huge volume of surfboard bags and suitcases returned to Los Angeles International airport. Team WaterWays mobilized a U-Haul to collect all the bags upon arrival into LAX international terminal and back to WaterWays HQ in Santa Monica. Over the past week we have been able to return 95% of the luggage to the rightful owners; the few stragglers will certainly be picked up or delivered next week.
On a rare occasion things go bad due to no fault of any party, this one was Mother Nature. WaterWays Surf Adventures is there in these times to do all we can to alleviate the issues as best possible.
Special Thanks go out to Sara Tatro and Wendy Headlee who worked around the clock for days over the entire period to protect passengers on all flights as they became available. Our communications were never down.