Disaster teams survey Vanuatu cyclone damage | Pacific Beat

Disaster teams survey Vanuatu cyclone damage

Disaster teams survey Vanuatu cyclone damage

Updated 13 February 2012, 12:38 AEST

Disaster Assessment teams have visited the southern Vanuatu islands damaged by Cyclone Jasmine last week.

The teams were to get a clearer picture of the destruction of Tafea, the Province most affected by the cyclone's gale force winds and heavy rainfall.

Oxfam in Vanuatu, has been receiving frequent updates from assessment teams in Tanna.

Presenter: Geraldine Coutts

Speaker:Alex Mathieson, Oxfam's Country Director in Vanuatu

MATHIESON: The National Disaster Management office has been coordinating the effort with the support of NGO partners, including Oxfam, Red Cross and the like and also the provincial government down in Tafea. So there's been a sort of number of assessments happening so far, first was an aerial assessment that happened late last week and you'll just get a sense from the air about what the situation was and what damage could been seen and also identify where the worst affected areas were and they seem to be southwest Tanna and Aneityum Island seem to be the most affected. So over the weekend, joint assessment teams have been deployed, again made up of government and agency staff, so we have teams in Tanna at the moment and they managed to get out to a few villages yesterday to look at the impacts there in Tanna and also today, there's another team that's going to fly to the outer islands, so Futuna , Aniwa, Erromango and Aneityum and so they're able to visit there and get some first hand information from the people there about the impacts.

COUTTS: Has anyone been able to examine the aerial photos or have been able to report back from the fly over as to what is actually going on on the ground?

MATHIESON: Yeah, so what we're hearing both from the aerial reconnaissance and also from people on the ground is that the main damage seems to be to crops, to crops particularly like banana and other fruit trees have been the main damage. There is some sort of reported damages to houses and other infrastructure, but it seems that the main focus at the moment is agricultural and yeah, again some concerns around some water system damage, but again that needs to be verified by the teams on the ground.

COUTTS: And people were they evacuated to the care centres in those areas?

MATHIESON: There were some evacuations and we haven't yet heard if people have returned, but I believe that they have and it did seem that this time around the early warning systems in getting the information out through the radio and through phones and through other means seemed to work better than last year and the people that we've spoken to said that they did have some advance warnings the cyclone was coming.

COUTTS: And Mr Mathieson, you talked about damage to some infrastructure. What infrastructure in particular, are we talking about ports and airports?

MATHIESON: There was some reported damage to the wharf in Tanna, so we got that second hand, so we're waiting to hear from the team on the ground once they've had a look. We've got a logistician, an Oxfam logistician as part of the team there so he'll be assessing that damage today, because obviously if there's any need to bring in any supplies, then the wharf is going to be important. There was some reports of air strips being out of action, but that would most likely be as a result of the sort of water logging and some debris on those, so they should reasonably easily be cleared in time. So it does seem that most of that infrastructure if it's not operating, they'll be able to operate relatively soon. The other areas, there's some reports of damage to houses and some sort of small damages to some school buildings and the like, but again, we're verifying that information at the moment.

COUTTS: And at this stage, no reports of deaths or injuries?

MATHIESON: No, there's been no deaths and reports of some very small injuries straight after the cyclone. So it does seem that the worst of the cyclone actually missed landfall and so that means that the situation is appearing to be slightly better than we had feared.

COUTTS: And are you experiencing any of the residual affects of the cyclone, the Jasmine or Cyril, although Cyril died pretty early, but Jasmine, is there still weather conditions as a result of it?

MATHIESON: Yeah, there's still I mean unsettled weather. It's rainy season anyway, so we have unsettled weather, but also the seas are still rough, so the last I heard was that the seas were still too rough down in Tafea to get shipping operating, so that's the main impact. But in terms of the cyclone itself, it's passed well now to the south of Vanuatu.

COUTTS: Alright, and when do you think you'll have conclusive evidence and final reports on the damage that has been done?

MATHIESON: So the assessment teams are out, they're out yesterday, they'll be out today and tomorrow, so they are doing some initial analyses and feeding that back on a daily basis. But we hope that by Wednesday, we'll have a very clear picture on the situation and work out if any sort of response is needed and at the moment, that response if it is needed is looking more around supporting with agricultural recovery, but again we will see what comes back to the teams before the National Disaster Management office and the department can make any decisions around what the response would look like.

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