*View and download photos of the impact of Cyclone Harold here
As Cyclone Harold barrels towards Fiji, new aerial photos taken by Save the Children reveal major damage caused by the storm on Vanuatu’s northern islands.
The images show homes that have been totally destroyed, debris strewn across the ground, boats grounded and trees snapped in half. The category five storm tore across Vanuatu on Monday night, packing winds in excess of 250km/h.
Save the Children’s Vanuatu Country Director Luke Ebbs, who captured the photos during an assessment trip with partner organisations, supported by World Vision, said:
“The scale of damage is immense. In some parts of Santo Island not a single building or structure is free of damage. Homes have been flattened to the point they are unrecognizable. There was widespread damage. Water tanks knocked over, boats blown out of the water, trees stripped of their leaves and lots of roofs blown off in the storm.
“In some communities on the island of Malo there are reports that not a single structure or building is free of damage. It’s clear that Cyclone Harold has had a very serious impact, and the rebuilding and recovery process will take a long time.
“Right now there are very pressing needs for temporary shelter, food, water and basic hygiene items like soap, buckets and water containers. Many families we spoke to have lost almost everything, and they urgently need humanitarian assistance.”
Mr Ebbs said he was particularly concerned about the impact of the cyclone on children. “Cyclone Harold was a powerful storm and it would have been extremely frightening for children in the worst affected areas. As the humanitarian response builds, it will be important to support children’s emotional needs,” he said.
“I know my own son was scared and we were in Port Vila where the worst of the storm missed us. Children in places like Santo have been through so much and they will need extra support.”
While it is still too early to know the full impact of Cyclone Harold, it is estimated that more than 100,000 people have been affected in Vanuatu, including tens of thousands of children.
“Save the Children teams are working closely with partners and the provincial government, which is working hard to mount a humanitarian response. The private sector has also been helping people access goods while banks are closed. Save the Children is ready to do what is required to meet the needs of families and communities impacted by Cyclone Harold,” Mr Ebbs said.
This comes as Vanuatu is in a State of Emergency to prevent the introduction of COVID-19. So far there have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country.