Low-Lying, Flood Prone Areas In Vanuatu Evacuated As Cyclone Passes

No injuries, fatalities reportedy by Disaster Management Office

By Dan McGarry

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, April 10, 2017) – Disaster Management Office evacuated families from low-lying and flood prone areas yesterday as concerns about rising river levels put the safety of vulnerable communities at risk.

The NDMO’s Peter Korisa confirmed that as of 2pm yesterday, ‘fewer than 300’ people had taken advantage of the offer to remove themselves to public buildings designated as evacuation sites.

But rising waters seem to have changed the minds of some. Shortly after 3pm, The Daily Post witnessed a Vanuatu Mobile Force troop carrier unloading Blacksand residents at the Pakaroa church in Manples. Asked how many people were inside, a VMF member simply said, ‘Plenty’.

Reports emanating from social media indicate that at least two bridges in the Havannah Harbour area were impassable as of mid-morning yesterday.

NDMO coordinator Peter Korisa himself conducted a visual inspection from Rentapau to Mele Cascades at first light, and expressed concern about a number of waterways in the peri-urban areas around Port Vila.

By mid-afternoon yesterday, the Daily Post received reports concerning rising waters at both the Mele and Prima rivers. An on-site inspection showed the Prima river was nearly overrunning its banks and moving fast.

Both the Mele and Rentapau bridges were damaged during cyclone Pam, and local resident have expressed concern that this new flooding might impact the integrity of the structures.

Within the municipality, the usual areas were affected worse than ever. Both Manples and Seven Star roads were inundated over extensive areas, with torrents of water continuing to flow into the natural catchments. Some Seven Star residents were reportedly spotted using an inverted refrigerator as an impromptu canoe to navigate the flood waters.

Cyclone Cook did little damage to private property on Efate due to winds, but NDMO officials cautioned the public against complacence. Mr Korisa said, “Cyclones are a seasonal event. They don’t come out of nowhere. It’s better if you’re prepared ahead of time instead of calling us at the last minute to find out whether you need to repair your roof.”

So far, no injuries or fatalities have been reported.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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