VANUATU — (March 18, 2015) — Urgent CARE packages of food and water will soon be on their way to communities devastated by Cyclone Pam on Tanna Island, in Vanuatu’s south. As an initial response, CARE supported the emergency response for the Government of Tafea with food packages consisting of rice, canned fish, canned meat, canned vegetables, eggs, noodles and bottled water.
A boatload of food and water is expected to depart Port Vila late on Wednesday, headed for the shattered island. Large parts of Tanna, which is home to around 24,000 people, remain cut off due to landslides and severe cyclone damage making many roads impassable. Aerial assessments indicate that in some communities all homes have been severely damaged or destroyed.
“Decimation is the only word for what has happened here,” said CARE Vantuatu’s Program Manager Charlie Damon in Lenakal on Tanna Island’s western coast. “You cannot see a leaf on a tree. What used to be a green island, is now brown. All crops have been destroyed, all traditional housing is gone. People are without water. This is a grave situation down here.”
As CARE emergency workers continue to land in Vanuatu to support the relief effort, the aid organization has warned that the response to Cyclone Pam may take many months, with logistics being extremely challenging.
“This is a country of 83 islands stretched over many hundreds of miles of ocean. Most people in the country live in rural communities, and even making contact with most areas remains extremely challenging,” said CARE’s Tom Perry in Port Vila.
“Communications are still down, roads are blocked by landslides and many bridges are broken or have collapsed. CARE is doing what we can to get help to those that need it, but this is a massive logistical challenge.”
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.
Media contact: Holly Frew +1.770.842.6188 firstname.lastname@example.org
About CARE: Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE has more than six decades of experience helping people prepare for disasters, providing lifesaving assistance when a crisis hits, and helping communities recover after the emergency has passed. CARE places special focus on women and children, who are often disproportionately affected by disasters. To learn more, visit www.care.org.