On the 13th March 2015, Tropical Cyclone Pam hit the northern and central islands of Vanuatu. The category-5 storm brought winds of 250km/hr with gusts up to 320km/hr. Winds and flooding destroyed homes, uprooted trees, ruined crops and caused considerable damage to infrastructure. Continuing into March 14th, the cyclone travelled south through the archipelago causing further massive devastation in the southern islands of Vanuatu. In total, 11 people were killed and approximately 66,000 lost their homes. Widespread crop damage, in a country where the majority of the population rely on subsistence farming, was a significant issue. In total 188,000 people were affected by Cyclone Pam, approximately 70% of Vanuatu's total population. Below you can find a series of progress reports and infographics which illustrate the work that we've done so far. You can also find a detailed account of what Red Cross has been doing to help, from before the cyclone struck until now. 


PROGRESS REPORTS & INFOGRAPHICS


CYCLONE PAM: HOW RED CROSS HAS RESPONDED

 

1. Disaster Preparation

Vanuatu Red Cross Society's response began before the cyclone arrived. Initial forecasts predicted that Tropical Cyclone Pam would take a path between Vanuatu and Fiji remaining hundreds of kilometres from the islands of Vanuatu. VRCS monitored the situation closely and as TC Pam grew in size and strength it became clear that this 'monster' cyclone was headed directly for Vanuatu. It was all hands on deck for the preparations. The disaster management team made logistical preparations in anticipation of post-cyclone needs, participated in the identification and assessment of evacuation centres and, in cooperation with the NDMO, assisted in the evacuation of people in low-lying areas prone to flooding. VRCS staff were briefed and an emergency evacuation plan developed for each staff member. As the yellow alert was issued, many staff were sent home with a core group relocating to the National Disaster Management Office to work through the cyclone. 

2. Emergency Response & RELIEF DISTRIBUTION

 Total Relief Distribution as of September 2015

Total Relief Distribution as of September 2015

The challenges facing Vanuatu Red Cross following the cyclone were immense. Communications, power and water were cut. Logistical coordination was extremely difficult. For the first few days it was impossible to know the full scale of the devastation on the outer islands. Many of Vanuatu Red Cross's staff and volunteers had lost their homes but they worked tirelessly to help the affected communities in their time of need. VRCS took on the management of 10 evacuation centres. Immediately following the cyclone, a Field Assessment Coordination Team (FACT), a team from the Emergency Response Unit and delegates from the IFRC were deployed to assist the National Society in the emergency response. These teams brought experts in logistics, operations, emergency shelter, health, information management and communications to provide support to the Vanuatu Red Cross Society team. Distribution of relief was targeted to the areas worst-affected by the cyclone. These included Paama island, the Shepherd Islands, the offshore islands north of Efate Island, parts of rural Efate, parts of the capital Port Vila and the north of Tanna Island. These areas were assigned to VRCS by the National Disaster Management Office with a number of other organisations helping to assist vulnerable communities in other regions of the country. In the period immediately following the cyclone, VRCS supplied food relief to people in evacuation centres. Tarpaulins and shelter tool kits were distributed to address the emergency shelter needs of the many thousands of people who had lost their homes. Staff in the Vanuatu Red Cross branches worked with the relevant provincial governments to distribute the pre-positioned relief stock. Read more about the emergency response and relief distribution in the Tropical Cyclone Pam Emergency Response Report

3. Cyclone Pam Recovery

The first few months following the cyclone focused on relief – making sure that people could survive in the aftermath of the disaster. Now, the focus has moved to longer term recovery, to reconstruction and to being better prepared for future disasters. As of January 2016, Red Cross has provided assistance to an estimated 39,915 people affected by Cylone Pam in Vanuatu. Following the relief activities, the recovery priorities for Red Cross in Vanuatu are to provide the means for cyclone-affected households to rebuild their damaged houses, have safe places for refuge and improve access to safe water.  The current El Nino weather event has brought with it dry and hot conditions, making access to safe drinking water a primary focus for Red Cross. Recovery programs are currently being conducted in the areas of shelter, health, livelihoods, disaster risk reduction, and water, sanitation & hygiene (WASH). Read more in the Tropical Cyclone Pam One Year Progress Report or check out this infographic which summarises relief & recovery activities that have been undertaken by Vanuatu Red Cross with support from IFRC & other national societies and donors since the cyclone struck.


THANK YOU

Vanuatu Red Cross Society wishes to thank everyone who has supported us in our Tropical Cyclone Pam response and recovery activities. The remarkable generosity of our supporters – individuals, businesses, partner national societies and the IFRC – drives our ability to provide assistance to the people of Vanuatu in this time of need.