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Cylcone Pam

Cyclone Pam has caused great destruction in Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, including Temotu Province, where Vaka Taumako Project operates.  We are currently raising funds to help islanders in Temotu with inevitable food and medical costs.

People who want to help buy food for this shipment can donate here or on the paypal link below.

Donors can also mail a cheque written to: Pacific Traditions Society PO Box 189 Anahola, HI, 96703 USA

Cyclone Pam March 13, 2015

Just to the left of the eye (north of northern Vanuatu) is Taumako.  On 3/11/15 Captain Luke Vaikawi of Taumako sent an email to Mimi from his office in Honiara to say that the rough sea and surge washed down the two biggest stone walls (at Tahua and Ngauta) and blew away some homes (probably the modern two story leaf homes).  But no report of anyone getting big i injuries or dying.  The big problem seems to be destruction of gardens and food trees.   No word of how the new Te Puke that they have been building was impacted.   We stand by for more news.  We hope there is transport from Honiara soon.   Dr. Simon Salopuka and his children have been waiting for a ship for 3 months now.  But there may be places, such as Tikopia and Anuta, where Cyclone Pam is known to have injured people and they may have priority.  When the sun has powered up a radio, and if the radio is working, we should hear more soon.

In this image notice that there are no less than 5 cyclones simultaneously, and two are directly feeding Pam…making her into the Category 5 plus monster that she is.

UPDATE March 15: The good news is that when Cyclone Pam passed close to the east of Taumako, Duff Islands, the people were sheltering in caves and safe places on the leeward side of the most destructive wind, rain, and heaviest seas.  The bad news is that they must rebuild their two biggest sea walls – at Tahua and Ngauta – and some of their homes blew away.  But these are things they can and will repair.  The really bad news is that they need food urgently.  Their gardens and the nut and fruit trees and wild food plants, have been destroyed.  We understand that the people of Taumako, Duff Isands, and the Vaeakau people of the Outer Reef Islands, are now facing a famine situation if they do not receive some emergency food to get them through the next few months.  We are talking rice, yams, tin fish, and whatever is available to send them that will keep them going.  There are now over 1200 people living on Taumako, so there is considerable need. These supplies will probably have to be sent from Honiara.

If you can help with a donation of any amount contact Dr Mimi George at george.mimi at gmail dot com.  If you would like tax deductibility in the USA you can donate the Vaka Taumako Project of Pacific Traditions Society, a 501c3 in the USA, and we will make sure the money buys food and pays shipping costs.  If you want to make a donation directly to the Vaka Taumako Project of Solomon Islands, a charitable organization registered in Solomons, contact Mimi and she will help you do that. We will post more news from Taumako and Vaeakau as we receive it.  It will probably be a week before any ship can head out for this area.  But right now is the time we can buy foods and Luke Vaikawi can make arrangements to get them carried on any available transport to Taumako and Vaeakau.

UPDATE March 18: Captain Luke Vaikawi of Taumako, who is one of the board members of Vaka Taumako Project of Solomon Islands, sent another message from his office in Honiara.  He reports that Dr Simon Salopuka is still on Taumako helping the community.  He expects to go to Lata when a ship comes, and work a while at Lata Hospital before going back to Honiara.  He is the only doctor in Temotu.

Taumako community is finding foods, such as coconuts to drink, wild taro and tubers that might still be safe in the ground, and fish.  They are also preparing to rebuild the two major seawalls around Tahua, the artificial island, and at Ngauta, the beachside village on the mainland.  This takes many people working together for many days, and there is not much food to give them energy.  The biggest concern is the need for food in coming weeks and months since the gardens and trees have been ravaged.

Capt. Vaikawi will inform us when a ship is planning to go to Taumako so that VTPSI can get foods onto the ship. Today we received a couple of donations for this purpose.   THANK YOU!  OLI EFA!

UPDATE March 30:

Thanks to donations received last week, Dr Simon Salopuka, Chairman of VTP of Solomon Islands just arrived in Lata, Santa Cruz Island with firsthand reports on the cyclone’s damage to Taumako.

In his first brief email from the only working internet access in Lata, he confirmed that no one was killed at Taumako by Cyclone Pam.  All were severely tested and traumatized as they endured over a month of very stormy weather and over a week of Cyclone Pam as she formed and strengthened just east of Taumako before heading south to Vanuatu.

Simon reports, “we sought shelter in caves and on the lee side of the island….Kahula (the birthplace of Lata and the late Kruso Kaveia) was hit worst of all.  I will send you photos when I get to Honiara.”

Most trees are down and it is urgent to clear them to 1) create access to drinking water, 2) find any tubers that may be dug from the ground in what were their gardens, and 3) plant new gardens.  If they could make posts and saw boards from the trees the community can rebuild their homes, the school, and the churches.  With strength from emergency foods they can rebuild the broken down seawalls and make their homes safe again.

This morning we are hatching a plan that would help all of this.  A professional arborist, Bruce Pryor from New Zealand, is planning to come to Temotu to help clear trees and train islanders to do it themselves.  Oceans Watch has organized for Bruce to arrive in Lata on 4 April., and go to the Reef Islands to start his work.

If we can raise the money to pay to transport Bruce, including 2 Oceans Watch chainsaws, Alaskan mill, fuels, and food for Bruce, Simon and the VTP crew who will assist him, then he can go to Taumako on 20 April (target date).  The chances of there being a ship are very small.  So the only transport option is to hire the biggest available motorcanoe from Reef Islands (we are checking with Ben Hepworth) and have them go on a good weather/good sea day.  We are waiting to hear current costs and availability of fuels and food.  But we estimate that the costs will be about $6000.USD for the sea crossings charter, driver for a week, fuels and oil for the canoe and the chainsaws,  rations for 10 days for 5 people at Duffs, and airfares and canoe ride for Dr Salopuka to get to Reefs and return to Honiara from Reefs.

If by some miracle there is a ship that can give one-way transport, it will be great.  But no ships are scheduled to go at this time and they rarely do go.  The Solomons relief effort is extremely slow and underpowered, and may never reach Taumako.  So we now ask for donations to make this happen!

Any other funds would support relief foods, tools, and fuels to got onto the next ship, whenever that may be.  Simon estimates that it will take Taumako a year to rebuild.  During that time they need supplementary sweet potatoes, yams, and rice.  The VTPSI crew will return to building the new Te Puke as soon as people are safe and healthy and have full bellies and some shelter.

Please help if you can.

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