A letter from… Vanuatu, South Pacific
Ashley Arthur reports after a cyclone hits Vanuatu, South Pacific
I live in a village called Siuiri, on the northern coast of Efate island in Vanuatu, and I’m studying for a certificate in disaster risk reduction with an organisation called Ola Fou (which translates as “new life”). On the Monday before Cyclone Pam, a group of investors from Australia told us they’d seen something on the internet: “There’s a cyclone coming, so get ready,” they said. But in Vanuatu, people often ignore information like that. Many people thought it would only be a small storm.
On Thursday, we got a text message warning us that Cyclone Pam was on the way. When a disaster happens, we can’t stop it; we can only reduce the impact. So, we started to prepare ourselves: We removed the roofs from all of our temporary shelters; we nailed shutters to the windows. Then, we passed through the village asking if anybody needed any help. We made sure all the houses were ready.
There were only a few houses where we didn’t remove the roofs. Some people didn’t think the cyclone would be strong enough to blow them off, but all those roofs came off in the winds. No one went outside because it was very dangerous…
This is an extract from the July/August 2015 edition of Reform.