Vanuatu

Vanuatu Cyclone Pam Response, March 2015

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April 4 2015

Accessibility to remote communities has proven to be a logistical challenge for aid agencies throughout cyclone ravaged Vanuatu, and it’s these communities that are oftentimes in the greatest need of support. GlobalMedic is flying our relief supplies via helicopter in order to reduce delays and reach villages in Southeast Ambrym that are struggling without access to water.

In the weeks before Cyclone Pam, the region suffered an earthquake, followed soon after by a volcanic eruption. In the already vulnerable area, the cyclone inflicted damage on nearly 90% of buildings, including clinics, schools and homes. The GlobalMedic team is on the ground to distribute water purification units and hygiene kits to serve the immediate needs of 500 of the worst-affected families. The team will be working in partnership with ADRA Vanuatu to simultaneously deliver jerry cans and shelter kits. Packed with essentials such as hammers, nails, machetes, spades, ropes and tire wire, the kits offer a culturally sensitive response that will empower families to rebuild their homes and their communities.

March 31 2015

As our team works in different villages throughout the island of Efate, the resiliency of the communities continues to amaze us. Families are working to piece together their homes and their lives after Cyclone Pam. The photo below shows books laying open in the sun, amidst the ruins of a family home – a keen attempt to salvage their belongings and dry out the pages.

Most of the homes in these communities lost parts of their roofs or had their entire house destroyed, leaving families vulnerable to the hours of rain that pelted the area. Local community members have told us that they cannot recall a comparable storm. 1987’s Cyclone Uma is the closest example from the recent past - its wind speeds reaching barely more than half of the strength of Cyclone Pam’s.

The GM team has continued capacity building training with our local partner ADRA Vanuatu, setting up a water purification system today called The Nomad in Rentapau. The system is capable of producing 100L's per minute of safe drinking water. The entire community came together to support the project; creating a base for the water tank, securing the stand with soil, and helping to carry the unit. At noon, the unit was fully operational, purifying water from the local stream. Not only is safe, clean drinking water now available for the 100 families that live in Rentapau, but the local ADRA team will also be able to confidently deploy The Nomad unit in the event of future disasters - whenever and wherever it’s needed.

March 27 2015

The damage that remains in the wake of Cyclone Pam is truly sobering. Lush, green vegetation is now stripped of its leaves, leaving behind an unusually bleak landscape. Snapped trunks and fully uprooted trees line the roads, their branches twisted into knots as a reminder of the 320km winds that tore through the island nation.

In partnership with ADRA Vanuatu, the GlobalMedic team traveled through cyclone ravaged communities on Efate today, distributing desperately needed tarpaulins. These supplies will help families whose roofs have been damaged or homes entirely destroyed.

Farmers are perhaps the worst affected community members. As we drove past an empty courtyard, our local volunteers pointed out that it was normally a large, bustling marketplace filled with locally grown produce. The wide range of vegetables grown in Vanuatu – including everything from carrots and cabbage to banana and taro - has been wiped out. It will be at least six months before these farmers return to the marketplace with any crops to sell, and likely a full year before they are recovered from the losses suffered as a result of Cyclone Pam.

Amidst the damage, it is the resilience of these communities that stands out. “The thing about our people is, yes, we are in need but we will not cry,” shared one community member. GlobalMedic will continue supporting families affected by the cyclone through ongoing distributions of relief supplies.

March 26 2015

GlobalMedic’s Rapid Response Team (RRT) has arrived in Port Vila, Vanuatu, and are mobilizing for a response that will distribute 500 Rainfresh household water purification units and 500 hygiene kits to families affected by Cyclone Pam. Today, GlobalMedic staff led an in-depth training on the operation of a Nomad water purification unit with staff from local partner ADRA Vanuatu. The Nomad is highly portable and produces 100 litres of clean drinking water per minute. Additionally, assessments were conducted for potential Nomad operation sites.

ADRA Vanuatu and GlobalMedic personnel have identified a key area for the distribution of relief items in the Southeast volcanic island province, Ambrym. GlobalMedic and ADRA Vanuatu staff will target this and other areas for implementation.

Please visit the website at https://www.canadahelps.org/dn/20307 to make a donation to relief efforts in Vanuatu.

March 20 2015

Cyclone Pam has so far claimed the lives of 11 people in the island nation of Vanuatu. In total, 150,000 people – 75,000 of them children – were affected by the Category 5 Cyclone that ripped through the tiny South Pacific Island nation. Currently, over 3300 people have lost their homes and are taking up shelter in the 37 evacuation centers around the country. Unfortunately, many schools are also being used as emergency shelter space, which prevents children from attending classes. Radio and cell communications are now starting their first stages of repair after the country was without reception since the cyclone hit.

There is an urgent need for water, hygiene supplies and medical care. GlobalMedic and GlobalFire volunteers gathered at the Toronto warehouse yesterday to assemble and pack relief supplies being sent to Vanuatu for the Cyclone Pam response efforts. A shipment of 500 Rainfresh household water purification units that will give 500 families the ability to purify water for one year, in addition to 500 hygiene kits were packed which will provide families with 48 bars of soap, 4 toothbrushes and 4 tubes of toothpaste. Additionally, Aquatab water purification tablets will be distributed to those most affected by the Cyclone. GlobalMedic is responding in partnership with ADRA Canada and ADRA Vanuatu to deliver these items.

March 15, 2015

A state of emergency has been declared as a Category 5 cyclone tore through the tiny South Pacific nation of Vanuatu on March 13th. Cyclone Pam brought on winds of approximately 250km/h and gusts of 320km/h that have toppled trees and power lines and left a trail of debris and destruction in its wake. Dozens are feared dead in the island nation and up to 10,000 people have been left homeless as the storm destroyed their homes. In the capital city of Port Vila, it is estimated that 90% of homes have been severely damaged. As the storm barrelled in from the Pacific, power was cut and most of the country's 82 islands were left without communications. The nearby Polynesian nation Tuvalu has also declared a state of emergency as it suffered from tidal surges that washed away homes and crops. The devastation is still being uncovered as aid crews reach the shores of some of the most remote communities. Although the storm's strength has decreased, high winds and rain still threaten the region.

In support of the devastated nation, GlobalMedic is deploying a Rapid Response Team to Vanuatu. Port Vila will likely serve as the logistical hub for relief items and needs assessment will help support the delivery of aid to families living in the worst hit communities.

GlobalMedic is currently raising funds to provide aid to victims of the storm. To donate, please visit https://www.canadahelps.org/dn/20307.