As two Category 4 cyclones struck Vanuatu in the space of 24 hours, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to be impacted.
Vanuatu has declared a state of emergency after Category 4 Cyclone Kevin delivered gale-force winds, heavy rain, and two earthquakes to the Pacific island nation as it battled its second major storm in a week.
Vanuatu, a nation made up of 13 main islands in the southwest Pacific, has already suffered damage from Cyclone Judy, which made landfall in the nation’s capital Port Vila on Wednesday and knocked out power and forced some citizens to leave.
Residents were startled by twin earthquakes early on Friday and urged to hunker down as Cyclone Kevin neared as the nation cleaned roads and repaired power lines damaged by Cyclone Judy.
“It’s insane. Vanuatu is accustomed to natural disasters, but this, in my opinion, is the first time it has seen two cyclones back-to-back, according to UNICEF representative Eric Durpaire, who spoke to Agence France-Presse.
According to a statement released on Saturday by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, hundreds of thousands of people in Vanuatu are thought to have been impacted by the two enormous Category 4 hurricanes that plowed across the island nation in less than 24 hours.
Radio New Zealand reports that the government declared a state of emergency on Friday and that officials were attempting to assess the damage. Considering the impact of two cyclones on young children who are already at risk, UNICEF Pacific said it was profoundly worried and was working with the government to meet families’ immediate needs.
Moreover, the UN agency announced that it was transporting essential supplies to Vanuatu from Fiji in order to aid with disaster relief. According to the meteorology agency, Cyclone Kevin brought wind gusts of 230 km/h (142.92 mi/h) and passed over the capital late on Friday. By Saturday morning, it was heading towards the southern island province of Tafea.
The province of Tafea, which has little over 30,000 residents, was under a red alert, according to the National Disaster Management Agency. All boats were instructed not to set sail.
As Cyclone Kevin continues to move southeast, away from Vanuatu, winds are anticipated to lessen during the next six to twelve hours.
The nation’s problems were made worse on Friday by earthquakes with magnitudes 6.5 and 5.4, but there were no early reports of casualties. Uncertainty exists over the state of distant islands.
The Vanuatu Red Cross Society’s secretary general, Dickinson Tevi, told AFP that residents of Espiritu Santo felt the earthquake but were unable to go outside to evaluate the damage due to strong winds.
Many claimed to have had trouble sleeping as the earthquake struck while they were still awake from the cyclone, Tevi said.
Because of the majority of the roads being damaged and the power outages brought on by fallen power lines, it has been impossible to reach the impacted areas. The Tafea province’s Tanna island is anticipated to be the worst-affected, according to Tevi’s later announcement.
Cyclone Kevin is expected to do additional damage, and disaster relief organizations are preparing for a protracted recovery.
UNICEF’s Durpaire compared it to a car accident: once the first shock wears off, long-term issues arise.
“Medical facilities, hospitals, and schools were impacted. For weeks or even months, some kids might not be able to attend school. Australia declared that it would deploy a 12-person assessment team and emergency supplies like shelters and water purification technology to Vanuatu. Assessments of aerial damage will also receive assistance from the Royal Australian Air Force.
According to Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles, “the Australian Defence Force is working closely with the Pacific family as part of the whole-of-government effort to provide the greatest support possible to the Ni-Vanuatu people.