Penama Province, Vanuatu
Thousands of people have been affected over the weekend as Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Pam took an unexpected change of course, crashing into key populated areas of Vanuatu with winds of up to 270km per hour.
There are unconfirmed reports that there have been up to 44 casualties in Penama Province in the North eastern parts of the islands.
Significant damage has been reported across the island and there are fears of landslides and severe coastal flooding as the storm moves further across the archipelago.
The Vanuatu Disaster Management Office issued red alerts for four provinces, advising thousands of residents to shelter in evacuation centres across the Pacific nation of 270,000 people.
Damage to Teouma bridge has blocked access to the most affected areas of Efate. [Photo courtesy: Humans of Vanuatu]
Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) country director Mark Le Roux made contact on late Thursday afternoon expressing concern for the thousands of people living in flimsy accommodation.
Working alongside police and military personnel in evacuation centres, Mr Le Roux said the team has done its best to secure the necessary equipment to assist those affected by the cyclone. “We made sure the truck is fuelled,” he said, “and have filled fuel containers for two generators we have here and spotlights. All equipment has been tested.”
Communications remain down across much of the country, posing difficulties for initial relief efforts. ADRA is asking church members and communities across the South Pacific to pray for residents and ADRA staff in the region, particularly those who didn’t make it to evacuation shelters.
To support ADRA’s work in Vanuatu, visit <support.adra.org.au/cyclone-pam> or call 1800 242 372.