International humanitarian agency World Vision is assisting communities in Vanuatu to prepare for Cyclone Pam.
The cyclone has been upgraded to a Category Four storm, as it moves in a south-easterly direction to waters between Vanuatu and Fiji.
Meteorologists are predicting the cyclone will build to a Category Five system by Friday 13 March. Category Five systems can have up to sustained wind speeds of 270kph and gusts of 325kph. It is expected the system will not cross land in Vanuatu but will be close enough to cause damaging winds, flooding rain and dangerous sea conditions.
“The communities we work with have been advised of the threat, and are preparing for the cyclone,” said Michael Wolfe, World Vision Vanuatu Country Director.
He said World Vision had relief items ready to go in the capital, Port Vila, and on Santo Island in the north, while on Tanna Island, the World Vision team had been able to pre-position water and essential food items for the immediate aftermath of the cyclone.
Relief items included tarpaulins, blankets and hygiene, shelter and kitchen kits.
Some 15 communities on Santo Island are part of World Vision’s Community Based Disaster Risk Management project which has equipped people to prepare and respond to natural disasters. World Vision Vanuatu’s Disaster Management team has been on standby since the weekend. The aid and development agency is working closely with the Vanuatu Government and the Vanuatu Humanitarian Team, an NGO co-ordination body.
Solomon Islands has also felt the impact of Cyclone Pam with the islands of Malaita, Makira and Temotu experiencing heavy rainfall with gale force winds of more than 80 kmh.
World Vision Solomon Islands is liaising with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) in Honiara which is coordinating relief goods from various humanitarian agencies.