Tropical Cyclone Pam made landfall on Vanuatu and the capital island of Efate with a population of 66,000. The capital city of Port Vila suffered a direct hit by the storm, which was the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane. This is the strongest storm to make landfall since Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in 2013, and the humanitarian impact is expected to be high. UNICEF is reporting that the full force of Pam was dramatically worse than had been initially predicted.
Port Vila is reported to be without power or running water, with debris lining the streets. It is estimated that up to 90% of buildings are affected, including all mobile towers except one in Port Vila, resulting in the complete lack of communication with the rest of the island and the other islands that make up the country. Partners on the ground are reporting that shelter, food and water are urgent priorities. Houses are destroyed, trees are down and roads are blocked.
International Medical Corps has mobilized and deployed our Emergency Response Team to Port Vila to assess the situation and determine the needs of families and communities affected by this crisis. With a proven track record of responding quickly and effectively to catastrophic natural disasters such as this International Medical Corps is well equipped to address the most urgent needs of local communities as they are further identified.
With such a destructive impact on homes and infrastructure in the region, Tropical Cyclone Pam has already left a lasting mark. With experience in responding to both immediate lifesaving needs as well as developing longer term capacity for resiliency in the face of natural disaster International Medical Corps can make a lasting impact in affected communities. Promoting self-reliance is a cornerstone of our work and ensures that vulnerable communities are better equipped to face future disasters.