IT WAS a nightmare Danielle Doney Bryce thought would never end.
The Nambour woman, her husband Luke Bryce and four-year-old daughter Chelsea were caught in the middle of what is believed to be Fiji's worst reported storm in history over the weekend.
A state of emergency was declared yesterday as more than 12,200 Fijians begun returning to their homes after spending several days in evacuation centres because of floods.
The Bryces spent five nights huddled inside their home at the popular tourist island Denarau, which was isolated after the only road in and out went under on Thursday.
Mrs Doney Bryce said the weather came without warning.
"It started raining last Wednesday and it was reported that it would clear Thursday, instead it was the opposite," she said.
"We were awake for most of Thursday night due to torrential rain and strong winds.
"Friday morning we drove to work to collect my computer, by the time we went back home - which was only 30 minutes later - the floodwaters had risen so fast we were lucky to get home."
A severe weather warning remained in place for Viti Levu, where water and power supplies were cut and many homes and businesses destroyed.
The death toll lingered at five, with several others still missing.
Mrs Doney Bryce said it was difficult to shake fears of further devastation. "Saturday night was the worst night, I was absolutely terrified, mostly because there was still a cyclone to come and what we were experiencing was only a low depression," she said. "It's absolutely devastating what has happened here."
Locals were spared further destruction, with Cyclone Daphne, which formed on Monday afternoon, passing the island.
It was the second time in eight weeks that the nation was hit by widespread flooding.
Thousands of people have lost their homes and all their belongings, it's heartbreaking," Mrs Doney Bryce said.