Wellington's Vanuatu community mark Pam anniversary
Wellington's Vanuatu community mark the first anniversary of Cyclone Pam which devastated Vanuatu and left 70,000 people homeless.
It's one year since Cyclone Pam tore through the Pacific leaving devastation in its wake.
Vanuatu was the worst hit nation with almost 70,000 people left homeless.
Kate Pereyra Garcia went along to a meeting held in New Zealand's capital Wellington to mark the anniversary and filed this report.
One year on from Cyclone Pam, the people of Vanuatu are still living with the effects. On the worst hit island of Tanna, uprooted trees remain where they fell, some blocking roads, drought is causing water shortages, and children are still going to school in tents. The Red Cross' Pacific Advisor, Shane La'ulu, says the storm caused significant damage in a matter of days, but the recovery will take much longer.
SHANE LA’ULU: There’s a lot of projects that will be around supporting people with infrastructure and also sort of some of the problems which come from the amount of damage and that, that was done. So water, water purification, water support and all those areas around health that are quite important. In some cases it takes years, we have good examples of Christchurch but also Samoa, Tonga and a number of places that have been affected by Natural Disasters.
The secretary of the Wellington Vanuatu Community, Leina Isno, travelled to Tanna Island last October and says it was an emotional visit.
LEINA ISNO: Vanuatu is home for me, its where my people are, its my land, its where I connect to, its everybody who live there are my family my friends and to see the devastation that cyclone Pam had actually done to it was far wrenching for me.
Leina Isno says as well as the destruction there were also signs of life recovering. Roger Burt, whose extended family live on Tanna, recalls the first stressful days after Cyclone Pam hit when they couldn't reach anyone.
ROGER BURT: Pretty much freaking out, worrying, had an idea we would be in for the long haul waiting for word back from there but it was sort of longer than what we expected. Yeah apparently they just went around in a big group just from house to house fixing everyone’s houses up yeah and they just got on with it, without mucking around, you know without worrying about having to go on Facebook and tell everyone their dramas and uh.
Roger Burt says his family are better off than some but it's a resilient community and they're moving forward. Those gathered to commemorate yesterday were also grateful for the generous donations and industrious fundraising efforts that began soon after the category five storm hit. They also raised the issue of climate change and the increasing prevalence of such severe storms in the Pacific, with the latest, Cyclone Winston, hitting Fiji just last month.
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