Vanuatu has declared a state of emergency as category 4 Cyclone Kevin swept through the island nation on Friday (March 3), destroying homes and leaving many in need of shelter. The country had already been hit by extreme weather two days earlier after Cyclone Judy battered Port Vila on Wednesday (March 1).
Many fruit trees were wiped out, affecting families that rely on the harvest for both food and income. Flash flooding has also affected communities in Tanna and many remain without power.
Tanna and other islands located in the south of Vanuatu are without telecommunications, meaning that many communities have been unable to contact others.
ADRA is on the ground in Vanuatu responding. The humanitarian agency opened two evacuation centres—one in Santo and another in Port Villa—to provide shelter during the cyclone. The centre in Port Villa remains open, providing shelter to people who have lost their homes, along with food and counselling services.
The ADRA team on the ground is working to survey the needs of affected communities to determine how best to respond. ADRA Vanuatu project manager Pastor Thomas Belden who runs a health project in Efate was one of the first on the ground conducting a rapid needs assessment of his local community.
The Vanuatu Mission is working closely with ADRA to provide support and an ADRA emergency operations centre has been set up in the mission office.
The local ADRA team in Vanuatu is partnering with a regional response team with members from ADRA South Pacific, ADRA New Zealand and ADRA Australia.
“Our local team on the ground have been amazing; they have spent this last weekend setting up an emergency response to help families when they need it most,” shares Anna Cherry, a regional response team member and ADRA New Zealand program manager.