CARE Australia has launched an appeal for urgent support following the devastation of Category Five Tropical Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu.
Cyclone Pam has hit Vanuatu with devastating force over the past 24 hours, with sustained wind speeds over 260 kilometres an hour leaving large parts of the island nation cut off.
The number of people and communities affected by Pam remains unknown with much of the country cut off from communications and transport, but Vanuatu’s entire population of 250,000 people are expected to have been hit by Pam’s fury.
Charlie Damon, Program Manager for CARE International in Vanuatu, said that in the capital Port Vila, which was under the eye of the storm late on Friday night, people were beginning to emerge from emergency shelters to scenes of terrifying destruction.
‘While we are only just beginning to get out beyond the outskirts of Port Vila, it is very clear that Cyclone Pam has hit Vanuatu with devastating force,’ said Ms Damon from Port Vila.
‘Homes have been blown to pieces, and even evacuation shelters, where people had sought refuge, have been flooded and left exposed to Cyclone Pam. If this is the level of impact in communities where emergency shelters were an option, we are deeply concerned about what has happened in remote communities without them.’
Ms Damon said the storm was the strongest cyclone to hit Vanuatu in recorded history, and was still tracking its way slowly across the island nation’s southern provinces.
‘Much of Vanuatu remains cut off, and Tafea Province, where CARE has been working for many years now, has this morning borne the brunt of this ferocious cyclone. We’re beginning to plan our response based on the likelihood of massive destruction of many communities in Cyclone Pam’s path.’
CARE has worked in Vanuatu since 2008, focusing on building resilience to disasters and climate change shocks, and increasing women and girls’ involvement in community leadership. CARE Australia is an international humanitarian aid organisation fighting poverty, with a special focus on working with women and girls to bring lasting change to their communities.