Thank you again for your generosity to our Cyclone Pam (Vanuatu) 2015 Appeal.
"Being prepared saved our lives"
Fabrina is grateful that she heard Red Cross warning her community over the radio that a cyclone was coming, the strongest ever to hit Efate. Without that warning, her family may not have survived the night.
"The advice we got was we should find a safe shelter and stay in one place for the night," she explains.
Months before, Vanuatu Red Cross helped Fabrina's community to prepare for a cyclone. She and her children went to her father's house, and reinforced it with corrugated iron sheets. They also filled water containers to last for several days.
As the cyclone reached its full force, one of the iron sheets was ripped from the roof and the rain poured in. Fabrina spent the night crying and praying there would be no loss of life. In the morning, she woke to scenes of total devastation.
"It was hard to see our village like this, the cyclone caused so much damage," she says. "But here people just go on with life. Immediately people had started cleaning up."
Getting relief supplies to 15 islands was a mammoth operation.
Red Cross chartered helicopters and boats, and accessed military vessels and even private yachts to help. Vanuatu Red Cross volunteers were always on hand to unload and distribute relief supplies.
Mark Tomase from Paama Island was pleasantly surprised to receive a call from his uncle in New Caledonia via Red Cross.
After Cyclone Pam, Red Cross received more than 300 enquiries from people looking for their family members, and helped 65 people to make contact with their loved ones.
Safe water and sanitation
Red Cross provided 43,000 litres of drinking water on Tanna Island and in Mele village, where the cyclone had damaged available water sources.
Across the country, repairs to water systems ensured that 14,000 people had safe water to drink, while 4,000 jerry cans were distributed for families to carry water home. Red Cross continues to restore water supplies and promote hygiene practices to prevent water-borne illnesses.
Responding across the region
Cyclone Pam destroyed homes and food gardens in Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu. Red Cross has been conducting assessments and distributing tarpaulins, blankets, mosquito nets and hygiene kits to some of the worst-affected families.
Building resilience to future disasters
Simple building techniques can make a home more resistant to cyclonic winds: low eaves on roofs, detachable verandas and walls reinforced with corrugated iron. In the coming months, Red Cross will help train a new generation of carpenters and home-builders, using both modern and traditional building techniques.
Local first responders
The South Pacific can expect more frequent and intense cyclones. Red Cross is working with governments to ensure early warning systems and evacuation centres are operational, local first aid and emergency teams are trained, and relief supplies are ready when needed.
Please support our ongoing work
We can't stop disasters from coming but we can take steps to protect lives and livelihoods.
Please donate to our disaster relief and recovery work and provide valuable support to our emergency services staff and volunteers as they prepare, respond and provide support to communities during and after disasters. You will know your donation has made an important contribution to our work whenever you see a Red Cross Emergency Services team in action.