World Vision on ground in Vanuatu after 'devastating' Cyclone Pam
World Vision worker Chloe Morrison has described scenes of devastation in Vanuatu after the deadly Category Five Cyclone Pam wreaked havoc across the island nation.
World Vision is working closely with the Government of Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office to plan rapid needs assessments and coordinate the distribution of relief.
"It’s an absolutely devastating sight,” Ms Morrison said Sunday 15 March. “We’re seeing whole buildings and structures blown away. And those were large buildings – the smaller structures people are living in just didn’t have a chance in category five cyclone.
"Whole villages have been blown away. The homes have been absolutely completely flattened, they’re just piles of timber, and sometimes not even that. They just are totally decimated. The wind was so strong they just blew away huge chunks of debris. We’re seeing a lot of debris.
“People have been shocked by how devastating it was and how terrifying it was. Vanuatu is one of the most disaster prone areas in the world – typhoons, earthquakes, and tsunamis - and yet this still shocked them. But there was also relief for the people I spoke with. They’ve lost everything -- their home and everything in it -- but they’re just relieved they’re ok.”
Ms Morrison, who was in Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila throughout the cyclone, expressed grave fears for those caught on Vanuatu’s outer islands, where the death toll is thought to be highest. “Given that we haven’t been able to communicate with the other islands, and what I’ve seen in terms of damage to houses in Port Vila, it’s an unfortunate reality that the death toll may rise. There’s a massive search and rescue that will be need to be underway.”
Ms Morrison, World Vision Vanuatu communications officer, said the priority now was to provide emergency shelter and access to clean water and food, after pre-positioning supplies in the week leading up to the storm including water, food, blankets, tarpaulins, shelter, hygiene and kitchen kits in key places.
“People here are subsistence farmers. Crops will be wiped out,” Ms Morrison said. “And any surplus food will likely rot by the end of the week because of all the rain. If we can’t reach some of these communities, hunger and a lack of clean water could really become a problem.”
World Vision has been working in Vanuatu since 1981 and currently has projects across six provinces.
To donate to World Vision Australia’s Disaster Ready call 13 32 40 or visit www.worldvision.com.au/cyclonepam
For interviews with World Vision staff in Vanuatu, contact:
Stuart Rintoul on +61 (0) 407 241 492 or email@example.com
Kayla Robertson: +61 (0) 418 762 926 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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