Bringing Hope to Victims of Cyclone Pam

April 6, 2015 • Vanuatu
Tanna residents are seeing hope as Samaritan's Purse delivers relief supplies.

See the latest updates as Samaritan's Purse brings relief after the terrible storm that wreaked havoc across the nation of Vanuatu

For the first time since Cyclone Pam devastated their island, the people of Tanna are seeing hope. Samaritan’s Purse teams have come here in the Name of Christ, bringing emergency relief supplies to people who lost their homes in the catastrophic storm.

Tanna is one of the largest islands of Vanuatu, the South Pacific archipelago devastated by the massive storm. This is where a Samaritan’s Purse team of disaster response experts and medical personnel is working to bring relief to victims of the cyclone.

We have reached more than 3,200 households with tarps for shelter, hygiene kits, cooking supplies, blankets, mosquito netting, and jerry cans. We are now transitioning from supplying household items to distributing food provided by the government of Vanuatu. We plan to distribute more than 1,100 tons of food over the next three months.

Our medical teams have seen more than 1,200 patients and have now left the island. We were based at Lenakel Hospital in West Tanna. We’re also covering the birthing center/maternal child health center with tarpaulin and are installing a chlorinator.

Cyclone Pam response Vanuatu

Cyclone victims had something to smile about when relief supplies arrived.

We have also begun to work on Aneityum, the southernmost island of Vanuatu. Our team recently delivered aid to all of the more than 250 households on the small island.

The supplies being distributed are part of a shipment of some 70 tons of materials Samaritan’s Purse sent to Vanuatu to meet the immediate needs of storm victims. We expect to provide emergency relief to some 50,000 storm victims during our response.

Tanna, an island in the Tafea Province, was directly in the path of Cyclone Pam and suffered extensive damage.

“It was monstrous,” said Nelson Niras, a 60-year-old Tanna resident.

Most people here lost their homes and their crops, which were their main source of food and livelihood.

“Cyclones always pass through this island. Many cyclones have already come and gone. But this is the worst cyclone that has hit this island,” said Pastor Jonathan Moses, who prayed over one of our distributions on Tanna.

But as Samaritan’s Purse is giving out tarps are other supplies, smiles are seen and laughter is heard.

“This is the first time we are receiving help,” said Eva Shem, a mother of three.

The supplies not only will meet immediate needs, but are also a reminder that help has arrived and they are not forgotten. Our teams work in the Name of Jesus, ministering to those who are suffering and reaching out with care and compassion.

Cyclone Pam response Vanuatu

Families on Tanna island knew they had not been forgotten when Samaritan’s Purse brought tarps for shelter.

“I feel downhearted because many of my good things are destroyed, damaged,” said Ellen Wap, whose home was destroyed. “Only God, I give all my trust to Him—that help will come somehow. Then I saw the help already coming and I thank God for this.”

Cyclone Pam response

Supplies are unloaded after the barge arrives at Tanna.

Cyclone Pam hammered the island chain in the South Pacific with winds up to 185 mph and torrential rain, killing at least 11 people, destroying houses, and causing widespread destruction.

Our team arrived in Port Vila, the capital of the impoverished nation, in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

“What we’re seeing is what you’d see after a major disaster,” said Patrick Seger, leader of the response. “Food crops have been destroyed, fruit trees have been stripped off, pigs and chickens were swept away. They’re saying people will be without food for months.”

Cyclone Pam response

Samaritan’s Purse disaster response team members are helping storm victims on Tanna island.

The category 5 storm—the strongest to reach landfall since Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines in November 2013—made landfall at about 11 p.m. local time on March 13 and thrashed the islands of Vanuatu for most of a 24-hour period.

“(There’s) devastation as far as the eye can see,” a Samaritan’s Purse ministry partner in Vanuatu said.

Cyclone Pam response Vanuatu

Hygiene kits and other emergency supplies are meeting immediate needs.

In Port Vila, up to 90 percent of the houses were destroyed, trees and power lines were downed, and people were wandering the streets looking for help. There are reports of entire villages in remote areas being destroyed.

Located about a quarter of the way from Australia to Hawaii, Vanuatu has a population of 267,000 spread over 65 islands. About 47,000 people live in Port Vila.

“This is a very devastating cyclone,” Vanuatu President Baldwin Lonsdale told news outlets. “I term it as a monster, a monster. It’s a setback for the government and for the people of Vanuatu. After all the development that has taken place, all this development has been wiped out.”

Please join us in praying for the people of Vanuatu. Pray that God will bring hope and healing in the wake of the storm.