TC Harold was the strongest cyclone to hit the Pacific in years and it wasn’t just Vanuatu that was battered. After passing through the Solomon Islands as a Category 2, it quickly intensified into a Category 5 before sweeping through the central islands of Vanuatu and tracking through southern Fiji and Tonga.
The cyclone caused widespread destruction and 30 people lost their lives, 28 of whom were swept off a ferry in rough seas in the Solomon Islands. The passengers had been on their way back to their home villages as part of the country’s COVID-19 contingency measures.
Across the Pacific, hundreds of Red Cross staff and, volunteers just like Larissa are the first responders, helping their communities, friends, families and neighbours survive and cope in an emergency.
Vanuatu Red Cross volunteers with some of the relief supplies. Photo: Vanuatu Red Cross
We’ve partnered with our fellow Red Cross societies in Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga and the Solomon Islands to help them train and equip their emergency response teams. These teams can help with everything from early warning messages and emergency shelter, to distributing relief supplies and providing psychological first-aid to people suffering trauma.
In the wake of TC Harold, we also sent essential relief items, arranged aid workers to assist with shelter and logistics, and helped fund the response operation.
Just a few years ago, a Category 5 cyclone would have been a major humanitarian catastrophe in the Pacific, with the potential for a significant loss of life.
Thanks to these local teams of well-trained volunteers – and pre-positioned relief supplies – communities in the cyclone’s path were evacuated to safety and relief and support was quick to arrive.
It’s volunteers like Larissa, trained and ready to help their neighbours, who make all the difference in a disaster.