Devastation as Tropical Cyclone Pam storms through Vu

Adrian Banga surveys what remains of his house in Port Vila, Vanuatu, in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam. Photo:

Adrian Banga surveys what remains of his house in Port Vila, Vanuatu, in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam. Photo:

As climate change becomes a worldwide environmental issue, it has demonstrated clearly in the recent aftermath of Cyclone Pam. Climate change brought extremes to Vanuatu as seen in the devastation following the terrifying Cyclone Pam which wreaked destruction throughout the island nation and its outer islands on March 13 and 14.

Pam is a severe tropical cyclone and is considered as one of the worst natural disasters in the history of Vanuatu. About 65,000 people across Vanuatu were left homeless by the cyclone, which killed 17 people, said Osnat Lubrani, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for the country. The storm’s impacts have also been experienced, to a lesser extent, on the other islands in the South Pacific, particularly the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and New Zealand. Pam is the second most intense storm of the South Pacific Ocean according to pressure, after Zoe of 2002.

The extent of damage is large as the storm moved through the archipelago, especially in Efate, the capital of Port Vila; and the Tafea islands of Erromango and Tanna. The cyclone crippled Vanuatu’s infrastructure: an estimated 90 percent of the nation’s buildings were impacted by the storm’s effects, telecommunications were paralyzed, and water shortages continue to plague the small nation.

Vanuatu President Baldwin Lonsdale has said: “After all the development we have done for the last couple of years and this big cyclone came and just destroyed… all the infrastructure the government has… built. Completely destroyed”.

Communication across the country was crippled, with only one cellular tower in Port Vila remaining operational.

Four days after the storm, nearly 60 of the Vanuatu’s inhabited islands remained cut-off from the outside world. UNICEF has estimated that up to 90 percent of the buildings in Vanuatu have been affected by Tropical Cyclone Pam. Hospitals, schools and water supply are either compromised or destroyed.

By March it would be normal for around four cyclones to have formed in the South Pacific. The 2015 season has been particularly bad. Six cyclones have hit the region since the beginning of the year.


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