Oxfam Update: Stories of devastation from Vanuatu in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam

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Nasa Image Eye of Cyclone Pam.

MIL OSI – Source: Oxfam New Zealand – Stories of devastation from Vanuatu in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam

Stories of complete devastation are beginning to come out of Vanuatu in the aftermath of the severe tropical cyclone Pam.

Oxfam staff on the ground in Port Vila have reported complete destruction of homes, three storey high trees completely uprooted and small communities with barely any houses left standing.

Oxfam’s Vanuatu Country Director Colin Collett van Rooyen said people in Vanuatu had told him they had never seen a cyclone like this and they were scared of the devastation that would unfold as teams were able to make their way into hard to reach areas.

“We have no power or running water and are still not able to move around freely,” Mr Collett van Rooyen said.

“The scale of this disaster is unprecedented in this country and the proud people of Vanuatu are going to need a lot of help to rebuild their homes and their lives.”

He said there was still a red alert in place in Port Vila with high winds and rain and storm swells.

After a last minute change of course to the west Cyclone Pam made a direct hit on Vanuatu last night, tearing through the archipelago with winds of up to 250kmh.

With more than 250,000 people at risk from the severe tropical cyclone there is real concern of a potentially high death toll and of enormous destruction, particularly given the traditional housing that is so prevalent through the islands.

Oxfam is now preparing to respond to what is likely one of the worst cyclones ever seen in the Pacific region.

The highly populated island of Efate, which includes the Vanuatu capital Port Vila, was directly in the path of the cyclone.

Oxfam New Zealand’s Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier said the agency was deeply concerned for people in Vanuatu’s harder to reach outer islands. “Through Oxfam’s  Livelihoods programme, and Water and Sanitation projects  we work closely alongside communities across Vanuatu, in particular on Tanna Island.  These islands have much less infrastructure than the capital of Port Vila and are extremely remote and hard to reach in the best of times”.

‘We hold grave fears for the people on these outer and remote islands” said Ms Le Mesurier

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that we are now dealing with worst case scenario in Vanuatu,” she said.

Port Vila was recently named in the Natural Hazards Risk Atlas and is known as the city most exposed to natural disasters in the world because it faces a combination of risks including earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding and tropical cyclones such as Cyclone Pam.

You can support Oxfam’s response to humanitarian crises by donating to our Cyclone Pam Appeal http://www.oxfam.org.nz/donate/pam

Donate to Oxfam’s Cyclone Pam response

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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues.
Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia’s FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand’s The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.

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