Home | BGAV News | Virginia Baptists Support Cyclone Pam Response in Vanuatu

Virginia Baptists Support Cyclone Pam Response in Vanuatu

Virginia Baptists Commit $10,000 to Cyclone Victims

By BGAV Staff

Richmond, Va. – March 17, 2015 – As Cyclone Pam ripped through Vanuatu earlier this month, high winds and heavy rain packed a punch larger than any storm to make landfall since Typhoon Haiyan hit the Phillipines in 2013.

“Many of the houses and buildings have been destroyed,” Vanuatu President Baldwin Lonsdale told reporters after the storm. “More than 90% [are gone].”

“We didn’t think we were going to make it”, said the owner of this house. Photo credit: UNICEF Pacific
“We didn’t think we were going to make it,” said the owner of this house. Photo credit: UNICEF Pacific

While the death toll is low, residents of Vanuatu need help in the aftermath of this storm. With buildings destroyed and thousands of people now homeless in this South Pacific nation, the people of Vanuatu are awaiting relief.

: Initial reports suggested infrastructure was badly damaged. This broken bridge, outside Port Vila, shows that access to nearby affected areas is compromised. Photo credit: UNICEF Pacific
Initial reports suggested infrastructure was badly damaged. This broken bridge, outside Port Vila, shows that access to nearby affected areas is compromised. Photo credit: UNICEF Pacific

The usual aftermath of a significant storm is compounded on the 82 islands of Vanuatu. With docks and ports in disrepair, landing strips too small for aid planes to reach each island and downed trees blocking roadways across the islands, reaching the residents of Vanuatu with aid will take time.

Virginia Baptist partners in the southern Pacific region have already begun assessing their ability to respond. Baptist World Aid Australia is working through their network of churches and aid organizations in the region to mobilize relief.

Virginia Baptists have committed $10,000 through partners such as Transform Aid International to help initiate response efforts.

The initial work Transform Aid undertakes will begin through existing development efforts in partnership with the churches of Vanuatu. Anthony Sell, Director of International Programs for Transform Aid International, says, “we have confidence that in Vanuatu, given the significant role church plays in civil society, this will be an effective approach.”

People rummaged through what was left of their houses, looking for some belongings they could still salvage. Photo credit: UNICEF Pacific
People rummaged through what was left of their houses, looking for some belongings they could still salvage. Photo credit: UNICEF Pacific

“Virginia Baptists are uniquely positioned to respond through our worldwide network of Baptists,” says Aaron Lee, Disaster Response Coordinator for the BGAV. “Through our network, our churches are able to make an impact half a world away.”

“The people of Vanuatu need humanitarian assistance,” President Lonsdale said.

Donations for Vanuatu relief and other international relief operations can be made online at BGAV.org/Disaster.

Virginia Baptist Disaster Relief trains and mobilizes volunteers and provides financial assistance after local, regional and international disasters.

Learn more about Virginia Baptist Disaster Relief.