As Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam, Tropical Storm Bavi and Cyclone Nathan make their way across the Pacific, Red Cross is working with both communities and local authorities to prepare for what could become an unprecedented relief response.
Friday March 13, 2015
Port Vila residents prepare for Cyclone Pam. Photo courtesy ABC News/ Ben Bohane
"Cyclone Pam on its own has the capacity to do immense damage, but now with Bavi and Nathan, we could be looking at one of the biggest Pacific responses in recent memory," says Aurelia Balpe from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
So far, thousands of people in more than nine countries have been affected or are threatened by the storms. In Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji, Red Cross emergency response teams have been activated and relief supplies are in place.
Assessments are also being carried out in Tuvalu and Kiribati, where associated sea swells have caused significant damage. The situations in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and Papua New Guinea are being monitored closely with the authorities.
"It's timely that world leaders are meeting in Sendai for the World Conference on disaster risk reduction," Balpe says.
"This current situation shows just how much the Pacific region needs investment and support for effective risk reduction measures against cyclones, perhaps more than any other place in the world."
In the Pacific, reducing risk to disasters is not only a concept - it's a life-saving necessity.
For the past decade, Red Cross has actively supported communities to prepare for and minimise the impact of cyclones and other disasters in close coordination with their governments.
From first aid training to evacuation simulations, Red Cross has worked with hundreds of communities across the area.
"Moments such as these, our efforts in disaster risk reduction are put to the test," states Jacqueline de Gaillande, Chief Executive Officer of Vanuatu Red Cross.
"But there is only so much that we can prepare for. Now it's time to work alongside our communities and the government partners and make sure those who are affected get the support they need."
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