The Anglican Missions Office has launched an emergency appeal in support of the victims of what was reportedly the worst tropical storm to hit the South Pacific in the month of May. Tropical cyclone Donna unleashed winds of up to 300kmh on Northern Vanuatu over the weekend.
Early reports from Vanuatu speak of damaged infrastructure and buildings along with destroyed crops and food gardens in a country which is still recovering from Tropical Cyclone Pam in 2015. On Monday evening (May 8), the Government of Vanuatu estimated that 1,200 people were sheltering in evacuation centres in Torba Province and 1,000 in Sanma Province, both in Northern Vanuatu.
Government officials, the Vanuatu Red Cross, churches and other agencies are starting to assess the extent of damage done by cyclone Donna. They will report and collate their information over the next few days, although getting a full picture from the worst-affected areas will be slow because continuing poor weather is preventing boats and planes reaching some outlying remote islands. This damage and needs assessment will form the basis of a coordinated response – though past experience of South Pacific cyclones suggest people will quickly need clean drinking water, safe shelter and food.
Anglican Missions Board CEO Robert Kereopa has contacted the General Secretary of the Church of Melanesia, Dr Abraham Haurisasi, and is in touch with Bishop Patteson Worek, of the Diocese of Banks Torres, Vanuatu and Bishop James Ligo, Port Villa, Vanuatu and New Caledonia.
The AMB will provide updates on its website as information comes to hand. Robert Kereopa says prayers for the people of the Diocese of Vanuatu and New Caledonia “are very much appreciated.