VANUATU, March 13, 2015 – With Tropical Cyclone Pam now upgraded to a Category Five system, the highest level, with sustained wind speeds of 260 kilometres an hour, CARE is mobilizing emergency relief supplies to prepare for response in Vanuatu.
Charlie Damon, Program Manager for CARE International in Vanuatu, said if the storm continues as a Category Five as it makes landfall, it will be the strongest cyclone the country has experienced in recorded history, with 200,000 people – half the country’s population – potentially affected.
“The northern islands of Vanuatu have already felt the brunt of Cyclone Pam in the past 24 hours, with strong winds and heavy rain now bearing down on the capital, Port Vila,” Damon said.
Extremely damaging wind gusts, heavy rainfall, flash flooding and strong storm surges are expected as the cyclone moves further down the island nation. The smaller southern islands are expected to feel the full force of Cyclone Pam late over the weekend.
“People will be bunkering down in very noisy grass huts, feeling every single gust of wind. They will be frightened, understandably so, and the risk of flooding and landslips is a major concern,” said Damon.
CARE has been working with communities to prepare for the cyclone and is prepared to respond to potential destruction.
“CARE has been preparing for over a week now, working to inform remote island communities that the Cyclone Pam is approaching, urging them to evacuate to safe houses.”
“There has been a big focus on making sure that women, children and people living with disabilities are being informed, and our staff are supporting the National Disaster Management Office to help get the word out about Pam’s path as far as possible,” Damon said.
CARE has worked in Vanuatu since 2008, focussing on building resilience to disasters and climate change shocks, and increasing women and girls’ involvement in community leadership.
Media contact: Holly Frew +1.404.979.9389 email@example.com
Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE has more than six decades of experience helping people prepare for disasters, providing lifesaving assistance when a crisis hits, and helping communities recover after the emergency has passed. CARE places special focus on women and children, who are often disproportionately affected by disasters. To learn more, visit www.care.org.