On Thursday the 14th of March, Cyclone Pam devastated the South Pacific island nations of Vanuatu and the Solomon islands, leaving death and destruction behind.
In Vanuatu the emergency has been big enough to trigger International Aid so whilst the job is massive, many planes are already arriving with supplies.
Temotu (North East Solomon Islands) has been affected as badly as Vanuatu but, as fewer people live there, it has not triggered an International Aid effort, leaving them with little help. Members of the Ocean Cruising Club, many of whom have visited these islands and made friends among the residents, have asked how best to reach out with assistance that will have the most beneficial impact on the lives of those most affected.
Jim Thomsen, s/v Tenaya, responded, ‘There are many international organizations that will be helping Vanuatu. One organization, Sea Mercy, has their own sailboats and focuses on reaching the remote islands that are usually the last to receive aid.’ Sea Mercy is now preparing to send her Disaster Relief Fleet (DRFleet) to join the Disaster Relief and Recovery efforts in Vanuatu, providing the care needed for the less populated and often forgotten remote islands during such difficult times.
Chris Bone of Oceans Watch responded that it would be best to have a larger impact in Temotu than a small impact in the whole of Vanuatu so they are currently concentrating efforts there. They can also help the smaller northern group of Islands in Vanuatu if it looks like they will miss out on aid assistance. Jim Thomsen reports that remote Tanna may have been the hardest hit island in Vanuatu.
OCC Member Tom Partridge and his partner Susie have been living in Vanuatu for four months while his yacht Adina was tied down in a cradle in the Port Vila Boatyard. They were fortunately in New Zealand when Cyclone Pam struck. Late yesterday they received the news that Adina was undamaged and that all yachts in the boatyard were unscathed. They are returning to Vanuatu at the weekend and have offered to stay on to coordinate relief efforts on the ground.
Cyclone Pam has left a huge amount of damage in its wake. Some lives were lost, many houses were damaged or completely destroyed. Fruit trees are gone, gardens washed away or covered in debris, and just root crops left in most instances.
Chris Bone reports, ‘To date we have used donated funds to pay for an assessment of Fenualoa Island, where we have a good knowledge of all villages. They need ~60 tarpaulins and emergency food. They also need chain saws to clear fallen trees from houses and gardens. We are going to provide some emergency food. We hope World Vision can supply the tarpaulins (they do not provide food) and we have ordered two chainsaws to be loaned to villages and we will be providing fuel. We shall supply a chainsaw mill, too, so that bigger trees can be utilised for building supplies, and are delivering vegetable seeds for planting. OceansWatch is a registered charity in New Zealand, the US, the UK and the Solomon Islands, with eight years’ experience in the Pacific. We are seeking guidance from our Solomon Island directors as to where our efforts are best placed. We have raised NZ$3,000 so far with more promised.
The Ocean Cruising Club commends the strategy of these two organizations to reach those hardest hit and least likely to receive immediate international aid. OCC Commodore John Franklin says, ‘these two organisations, along with assistance from OCC member Tom Partridge in Port Vila, seem to have in place the infrastructure to make a real difference to the plight of the islanders – please support them.
more info …..unicef.org.au
by Caitlyn Ridgley