17 May 2017

'Huge needs' in Vanuatu following Cyclone Donna

10:35 am on 17 May 2017

A helicopter manager in Vanuatu said assessment of the damage from Cyclone Donna has revealed huge needs in the Torres Islands where about 1,200 people live.

Children getting water on Hui in Torres.

Children getting water on Hui in Torres. Photo: Andy Martin/ Vanuatu Helicopter

Vanuatu Helicopters took an assessment team to the five islands that make up Torres - Toga, Loh, Tegua, Metoma and Hui - over the weekend.

The operations manager Andy Martin said there was very little food as all the crops were destroyed, houses were ruined and the water was tainted.

Mr Martin said people seemed to be in good spirits, but he wished he could have done more to help.

Village on Toga Island.

Village on Toga Island. Photo: Andy Martin/ Vanuatu Helicopter

"I saw a lot of broken houses, a lot of water tanks had been blown away simply because it's been a very dry season for them so they had very little in their water tanks anyway. And in the gutterings of roofs of churches and main buildings a lot of gutteirngs were broken so any water catchment from there wasn't going into the water thanks that were still there. Saw a lot of houses busted and broken and people still trying to live in the broken houses."

Vanuatu disaster officials are prioritising water and shelter items for Torres Island families who suffered the most damage in the cyclone.

Two-hundred cartons of bottled water and other non-food items like medical aid were shipped for distribution to the islands.

Director of the National Disaster Managemen Office Shadrack Welegtabit said food would also have to be sent to the Torres area while other cyclone affected zones need further assessment.

"We will be looking at Banks and we are going to do a proper assessment on those islands. And so we are organising that as well now. Not only Banks but also we are organising an assessment for west coast Santo and parts of west Malekula."

Shadrack Welegtabit said an assessment team visited the worst affected areas over the weekend.

Andy Martin said they also delivered seeds for people to start planting to grow their food gardens again.

Vanuatu after Cyclone Donna

Children at Toga Island in Torres. Photo: Andy Martin/ Vanuatu Helicopter

Vanuatu fundraising drive following Cyclone Donna

People from Vanuatu's Torba Province have come together in Port Vila to start their own fundraising drive for people affected by Cyclone Donna.

The storm impacted many of the northern islands last week.

Village on Tegua Island from the air.

Village on Tegua Island from the air. Photo: Andy Martin/ Vanuatu Helicopter

Marielo Laloyer, who is from Torba Province but now lives in Port Vila, said she hoped businesses in the capital would help with supply relief materials that can be sent north within the week.

"The greatest needs on Torres at the moment is nails, saw, hammer, rice, sugar and matches because I think the Red Cross and the NDMO is moving down to Torres with taupaulin and water. So we are just planning a small fundraising to help."

She said some of the worst affected islands have had flood damage, food crops ruined and water sources contaminated and so every little bit helps.

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