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Cyclone Pam tears through Vanuatu

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Oxfam staffers prepare response plans.

Cyclone Pam, a category five storm with winds up to 155 miles per hour, has slammed into Vanuatu, with a direct strike on Port Vila, the capital of this island nation in the South Pacific.

As the cyclone bore down on Efate, an island of 65,000 people where the capital sits, Oxfam staffers were preparing to respond to the destruction likely to be left in the storm’s wake. Early reports indicate roads are blocked and emergency crews are now working to get through to communities.

“Port Vila was recently named in the Natural Hazards Risk Atlas and is known as the city most exposed to natural disasters in the world because it faces a combination of risks including earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding and tropical cyclones such as Cylone Pam,” said Colin Collett van Rooyen,  Oxfam’s country director for Vanuatu.

He reported the force of the wind was astounding, and shook his house for hours as the storm tore across the archipelago.

“It’s clear that we are now headed for the worst possible case scenario,” he said. “This is big. This will devastate not just homes, but livelihoods as well.”

Slightly larger than the state of Connecticut, Vanuatu is a Y-shaped chain of four main islands and 80 smaller ones made up mostly of mountains with narrow coastal plains. Though many of the islands are uninhabited, the total population of the country is estimated to be close to 267,000.

Oxfam teams remain on standby as response plans are prepared.


Please donate to the Cyclone Pam Relief and Recovery Fund today to rush emergency aid to the region.

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