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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Vanuatu, Kiribati, Tuvalu and the South Pacific

I don't know if this is big on anyone's radar map since cyclones (hurricanes) on the other side of the Pacific Ocean rarely rate more than a one or two-sentence mention on the news in the US, but on Friday the 13th a monster hurricane slammed into countries in the South Pacific. Of all the countries in the path of this killer storm, it appears that Vanuatu got the worst of it. You can find a bunch of pictures of the damage on this website for Australian news.

So far the death toll stands at 8 in the capital city of Port Villa. According to the BBC article I linked to, about 75% of the houses in this city have been damaged or destroyed. Fears are that the death toll will go much higher because there has been no contact yet with the islands that took the direct hit. The numbers of people who lost everything will definitely go up as rescuers reach the other islands.

Cyclone Pam also caused damage in the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, and there's a state of emergency in Tuvalu because of flash flooding. As of Sunday evening, the storm was near the coast of New Zealand, but reports say it was considerably weaker by then.

I've been to Kiribati among other South Pacific nations--maybe that's why I feel an affinity for the area and the people. If you can, please consider helping them. CNN has a list of charities working in Vanuatu, a number of these from Australia, who has the lead on helping their neighbors. The Australian Red Cross has a donation page setup for Vanuatu. If you can, please consider making a donation. If not, please remember the people of this area in your prayers. Life is going to be very difficult for them for a while.