Cyclone Pam at ‘Category 5’ has been described as one of the most powerful storms ever felt in the Pacific with recorded wind speeds of over 340km per hour.
Over the night of 13 March Cyclone Pam smashed across the numerous islands of Vanuatu, causing widespread devastation. Many deaths have already been recorded as families fled their corrugated iron and thin wooden houses to crowd into emergency shelters or go to higher ground.
As the authorities search the outer Islands, including the most southern of Tanna and Efate, it is inevitable that further deaths will be advised.
The members of the Lions Club of Port Vila are at the centre of Lions’ efforts to look after their community. Our Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) has responded quickly by immediately sending an LCIF Emergency Grant of US$10,000. This initial Emergency Grant will enable the local Lions to distribute bottled water, food, clothes, hygiene packs, baby care, toiletries and medicines to literally hundreds of displaced people. Authorities have also warned of the risk of diseases as the sea covered many small islands and low lying areas disabling freshwater supplies.
The seven Lions Clubs on New Caledonia, who have recently conducted sight projects on the island of Tanna, are preparing to rebuild that community.
Closer to home, seaside areas to the north of Gisborne were severely battered, as were those on the Chatham Islands, and the Lions of Gisborne and Ruatoria are assisting their northern communities.
The New Zealand Government is assisting the people of Vanuatu in a significant way with money, supplies and air-force manpower and both Oxfam and UNICEF are in action on the Islands along with Red Cross and Save the Children.
Donation to the LCIF Disaster Relief Fund will enable much needed assistance to be given to those in distress. Lions Clubs can make their contributions as normal by crediting the LCI bank account via their club-encoded Westpac deposit book. Donations marked as such are eligible to go toward a future Melvin Jones Fellowship award.
Those living in Vanuatu may be a small part of the global community but the Lions within Vanuatu are a significant part of Lions Clubs International. They need our support to offer comfort and help to their communities via the assistance of LCIF and the Lions around the world. And remember – 100 per cent of every dollar donated to LCIF goes to the people in need.