Cyclone Judy has been upgraded to a Category 4 storm and is intensifying further as it heads towards the southernmost islands of Vanuatu. The cyclone made landfall on the island of Efate, home to the capital Port Vila, earlier today. The capital was battered by hurricane-force winds and there are early reports of damage to buildings, power lines, and other infrastructure.
CARE has been in contact with local communities in more remote areas to provide weather warnings and safety advice.
“There is a network of trained disaster volunteers in villages — they are essentially the Vanuatu equivalent of Australia’s CFA or SES volunteers — and they have jumped into action, communicating with our teams and spreading warnings and safety information throughout their communities. The walls and roofs of some homes in Vanuatu are made from palm leaves and woven grasses so our tips include things like the best way to tie tarpaulins to locally-available material like bamboo, to secure and waterproof your home. Being well prepared for a cyclone is much better than picking up the pieces afterward so we’re really hoping that the preparation work that we have been doing for years, together with local partners and communities, keeps people and their homes safe,” said Bridgette Thorold, Country Director of CARE in Vanuatu.
CARE is coordinating with local authorities and other aid agencies to respond to people’s needs once the extent of the damage is known.
“We have pre-positioned supplies in Port Vila and on Tanna island — tarps, ropes, and other things needed to create shelter or secure homes, as well as household essentials like soap and cooking materials for people who may lose possessions,” Ms. Thorold said.
Cyclones are becoming more intense as a result of climate change. There have been two category 5 cyclones — the highest there is — in the past 8 years — Cyclone Pam in 2015 and Cyclone Harold in 2023.