Vanuatu looks to restore communication after Cyclone Pam
The latest information from Vanuatu's National Disaster Management Office.
Vanuatu's Disaster Management Office says it hopes to have communication restored with the northern and southern provinces, which were cut off when cyclone Pam struck on Friday, within 48 hours.
Authorities have struggled to contact the islands that bore the brunt of Cyclone Pam, which are believed to have been extensively damaged.
A spokesperson for the NDMO, Mishael Lulu Garae, says aircraft have been conducting reconnaissance missions of the provinces today, and are hoping to have a full assessment by tomorrow.
He spoke with Jamie Tahana about the latest situation in Vanuatu.
MISHAEL LULU GARAE: For the provinces we haven't heard anything from them as yet as the communication systems are still down. I think the two telecommunication networks are working to ensure that the system is coming back to normal and hopefully in the next 24 hours or 48 hours the system will be coming back. So two planes are doing [reconnaissance of the provinces] and that's coming from the Australian defense and the images will be taken over to Australia for verification and we will be sent their report to this end -- over to Vanuatu in the next 24 hours. So far what we've been doing is mostly targeting the issues in Port Vila; so the Vanuatu mobile force, with the assistance of police and the community leaders and the communities around Port Vila have been doing a lot of clearing of the roads in Port Vila especially to essential services in Port Vila. In addition to that there has been some meetings taking place trying to organise people and different sorts of things and one of the main things that we're looking at at the moment, specifically with the help of the different agencies at the evacuation centres, is how we could better assist the evacuees at the evacuation centre. And I'm very happy to say that the NGOs are taking over responsibility in making sure that all the evacuees' needs within the evacuation centre are met accordingly and in addition to that the Government is distributing a little bit of rations to each evacuation centre to ensure that the food needs are met, though it might not be enough for everyone, shops are starting to open again in Port Vila and services are coming back. For example, water is now coming back, electricity is coming back to normal in Port Vila. So not 100% for both water and electricity but hopefully in the next 24 hours or next 48 hours things will be coming back to normal.
JAMIE TAHANA:We had the other day 80% of homes destroyed or damaged in Port Vila. Do we have any kind of figure on the number of homeless or at least the number of people in evacuation centres?
MLG: We actually haven't had the capacity on centre in Vanuatu and we just received specialists from Red Cross International on Centre and they'll be working alongside Red Cross in Vanuatu and also the co-ordination unit at the National Disaster Management Office to ensure that there is updated information on the shelter issues in Vanuatu and that is something that is in progress. So up to now we actually haven't got correct figures, actual figures on exactly how many people have lost their homes.
JT: What about food, are you finding there's enough food or supplies for the homeless people? Is there enough to keep the evacuees going?
MLG: At the moment what is coming from the external aid, for example from Red Cross they're bringing in non-food items, at the moment it's really the Vanuatu government who's looking at the rations at the evacuation centre here in Port Vila. However in the next week or so, from the experience we have here in Vanuatu whenever there is a cyclone, people would used to, in the first week... it would be OK for them to use their food crops that are still existing in their gardens but after then they would be needing external support for food needs.
JT: And in terms of health; I understand the hospital was damaged.
MLG: There have been some work done at the hospital to clear off debris from the buildings at the hospital and also there's some community members who had volunteered to go to the hospital and clean up the hospital the ward areas that has been flooded with water, so that has been cleaned. The electricity I think has been turned on yesterday as well as I understand, and water has been also turned back on at the hospital as of yesterday as well as far as I understand, and there will be some kind of extra support that will be provided to the hospital as well. I think the Australian government, and I think the French Red Cross, are providing that kind of assistance to help the hospital here in Port Vila.
JT: OK so the hospital is functional again?
MLG: Yeah it's kind of coming back to normal. It's not 100 percent but yes it's coming back now.
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