Vanuatu Members, Missionaries Impacted by Cyclone Pam
Cyclone Pam’s destructive impact in Vanuatu Friday and Saturday included at least eight confirmed deaths, the loss of many member homes, and the relocation of missionaries serving in the Pacific archipelago.
More than 6,000 Latter-day Saints and 31 congregations live in Vanuatu, spread among the 65 inhabited islands.
According to a Church press release, Church leaders in Fiji and Tuvalu confirmed that all missionaries in the Fiji Suva Mission are accounted for and safe. All missionaries in the neighboring Vanuatu Port Vila Mission, including those serving on the remote islands of Efate, Santo, Malekula, Gaua, and Tanna, are all accounted for and safe. According to Vanuatu Port Vila Mission president Larry Brewer, all missionaries were notified before the cyclone arrived, and moved to the safest location in each respective island.
All the missionaries in the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia areas are also safe.
Church leaders in Vanuatu and at the Church’s Pacific Area Headquarters are working with governmental and non-governmental organizations to identify needs and provide support.
The Church is chartering a small plane tomorrow from Port Vila to Tanna. Two missionaries will be on board with food and other supplies to give much needed relief to those suffering from the effects of Cyclone Pam. The plane will also be used to bring the 11 missionaries on Tanna back to Port Vila.
Many Church members and others on the island of Efate have lost their homes and are sheltering in Latter-day Saint meetinghouses.
Church leaders in Port Vila purchased food and other emergency supplies yesterday which are being distributed to Church members and others who are sheltering at Church buildings, as well as others who have moved back to their properties in order to start rebuilding their homes.
Latter-day Saint missionaries in Port Vila are helping families clean up their properties, and in some cases starting to rebuild.
Water supplies are being restored in many parts of Port Vila this week. However, power is still out across the nation. Some buildings are being powered by generators.
Military aid flights are coming into Port Vila daily, and some commercial flights will begin into the capital.
Hans Sorensen, Gary Winters, and Garrick Parr from the Church’s Pacific Area Office in Auckland are flying to Port Vila on to support local leaders in meeting the needs of people affected by the cyclone. This includes setting up partnerships with other churches and agencies for faster and more efficient aid distribution.
Those who wish to support the people of Vanuatu may wish to consider donating to the Church’s humanitarian fund through their local congregation or via LDS Philanthropies.
A blog has been set up at the Church’s Pacific Area Headquarters for families of missionaries in the Vanuatu Port Vila Mission so latest information can be shared. These families will be contacted shortly so they can access this blog.