First images of the aftermath of Cyclone Pam on Taumako.
2 weeks after Cyclone Pam brought massive devastation to Vanuatu and Temotu Province of Solomon Islands, VTP’s Dr. Simon Salopuka brings us these images of the destruction on Taumako, including this photo of the artificial island in the foreground – with all but a little bit of the 10 to 24 foot seawall that surrounded the island now flattened by Cyclone Pam. This part of the island was not so hard hit as Kahula, which was on the windward side of the cyclone winds. Many trees are fallen and dead, but many are still standing, if bare of leaves and branches. The biggest problems for the coming months are food supply, clearing the land to plant new gardens, and people recovering emotionally from the shock and losses.
Most of the traditionally built (on the ground) homes withstood the 200km winds of Cyclone Pam. As you can see in the photos below, it was only two weeks until the bananas had new leaves. But it will be 8 – 12 months before there may be some fruits again. There are no suitable leaves left on Taumako to use to rebuild the homes and roofs that were destroyed. The garden foods and fruit and nut trees will take months or years to recover.
There are no more sago palms to build houses.
One of many trees that fell in Ngauta Village during cyclone Pam. In this photo is a downed Pacific Almond tree.
In addition to food aid and our ongoing support of Taumako’s unique voyaging traditions, VTP is raising funds for the fuels for an arborist bringing 2 chainsaws and an Alaskan mill to Taumako to train Taumako people to use them and to help clear the fallen trees from houses and gardens. Taumako people hope to use the machines to make houseposts and maybe some sawn lumber. The arborist and his tools are only coming to Taumako for a week. We are raising funds to rent a large chainsaw that can stay at Duffs for some months so the many trees will not not go to waste. A halevaka roof is needed for the Lata Navigation School that will shelter canoes and be a place for voyaging students to work on the vaka.
Here we see a few Taumako children sharing mangos that fell on the ground during the cyclone. Food shortage will be the primary concern over the coming months. If you would like to donate to help the 1200 people living on Taumako recover from the devastation wrought by Cyclone Pam, please click here to make a tax-deductible donation. Taumako community thanks you for your kind support.