Boats and hard labour are needed to get emergency relief supplies to remote islands in Micronesia.
Monday April 20, 2015
Micronesia Red Cross volunteers use small boats to get tarpaulins, water containers and other supplies to communities affected by Typhoon Maysak. Photo: IFRC/Karen Leiva
Super Typhoon Maysak hit Chuuk State in Micronesia on 29 March, bringing strong destructive winds and torrential rainfall across 11 major islands before moving westward to Yap State, where it affected 14 islands. There are reports of significant damage to homes, buildings, water sources and crops across all affected islands.
The Micronesian Government is coordinating relief efforts, with Micronesia Red Cross as its auxiliary. However, responding to a disaster of this scale across 25 islands poses significant challenges.
Distance, limited transport options and weather conditions mean that outer islands are still inaccessible to assessment and relief teams. Even on the mainland of Chuuk, fallen trees prevent access to some areas.
In Yap, Red Cross is relying on information from radio communications to assess the scale of the disaster and coordinate relief supplies.
Food, water and shelter are the primary needs, with reports of overcrowding in community shelters and people having to live in the open. There are fears of imminent food shortages and cases of diarrhoea from unsafe drinking water.
Nonetheless, relief continues to arrive. Micronesia Red Cross had pre-positioned disaster relief supplies in Chuuk and Yap, stocked with tarpaulins and rope, blankets, kitchen sets, jerry cans and buckets.
More than 45 trained volunteers have been working hard to get these supplies out to affected families, via the National Coastguard and its patrol boats.
More emergency relief supplies are on their way from Palau, Marshall Islands, Malaysia and the Philippines. Red Cross continues to explore transport options to access all affected islands.
Australian Red Cross has been supporting Micronesia Red Cross in disaster management for several years: from training local volunteers to be first responders in their communities to pre-position containers of relief supplies.
Volunteer with Red Cross - we're seeking skilled professionals in Vanuatu.