New Zealand Red Cross has sent emergency supplies, including 2,400 tarpaulins, 1800 water containers and hundreds of first aid and shelter kits.

Kiwis have, so far, donated at least $160,000 to the New Zealand Red Cross Tropical Cyclone Pam appeal.

New Zealand Red Cross was first on the ground after Cyclone Pam slammed into Vanuatu on March 13, leaving immense devastation in its wake.

Peter Lawther, New Zealand Red Cross shelter specialist, arrived in Vanuatu on Saturday morning, just hours after Cyclone Pam hit.

“The cyclone has left immense devastation and thousands of people need shelter, food and water,” says Mr Lawther, who moved onto the southern island of Tanna.

“Tanna was the first area of Vanuatu hit by Cyclone Pam and it has been absolutely flattened. Trees have been uprooted; there is no foliage and no corrugated iron structures standing on the western side of Tanna. Schools and concrete homes across Tanna are destroyed,” he says.

“Shelter, along with water and food remain a top priority and we are working on getting help here as quickly as possible.”

New Zealand Red Cross is today sending an additional 1000 tarpaulins, 295 shelter kits and 300 kitchen kits to Vanuatu, along with New Zealand satellite phones and VHF radios for use in the outlying provinces where communication is difficult.

Communications delegate Hanna Butler is on the ground in Vanuatu; "I'm struck by the resilience of my Pacific neighbors, clean-up is underway, these people are survivors, but they need help to recover."

The relief supplies are being distributed by Vanuatu Red Cross who has 27 branches across the islands and many volunteers.

Three other New Zealand Red Cross delegates have now also arrived in Vanuatu, including a field assessment team delegate, a telecommunications expert and a communications specialist. Others are on the ground, responding to the crisis in Kiribati and Tuvalu.

In Vanuatu an estimated 130,000 people have been affected. Communications are extremely difficult and power cuts are continuing. New Zealand Red Cross says based on the sheer size of the storm, its ferocity and the track it took over inhabited islands, it is expected that there has been massive destruction, with thousands of people left without shelter and stripped of their source of livelihood.

While Vanuatu has been the hardest hit, thousands more people in nine countries across the Pacific have been affected by the weather systems, including Cyclone Pam and Cyclone Nathan, which is expected to remain in the region until Thursday morning.

New Zealand Red Cross, as a part of the global Red Cross Family Links Network, offers a free tracing service when a family has been separated by a humanitarian crisis. Due to the large numbers of people unable to access reliable communication infrastructure following the destruction of TC Pam, the International Committee of the Red Cross has launched the following website to offer people online access to consult lists and register names: http://familylinks.icrc.org/vanuatu/.

All people looking to reconnect with family should first search through the names already registered and if not found, register their family member as a missing person. If speaking with a family member in the affected area, they too should be encouraged to register themselves as ‘alive’ in order to facilitate searches by other enquirers. For any information on Restoring Family Links services, please email: familylinks@redcross.org.nz.

Ways to give

  • A special appeal for Tropical Cyclone Pam has been set up to raise funds that will be used by New Zealand Red Cross to respond to the needs of those affected by the immense devastation of Tropical Cyclone Pam.
  • 100% of the donations will go directly to our neighbours in the Pacific who have been affected by Cyclone Pam.
  • The Tropical Cyclone Pam appeal will be used to help ensure that aid workers can be deployed to provide immediate and long term assistance with providing vital supplies of aid such as shelter kits, kitchen kits, first aid kits and water and sanitation solutions towards contributing to the long term relief effort.
  • People can donate to the Tropical Cyclone Pam special appeal online – www.redcross.org.nz/donate or call us on 0800 RED CROSS.Donations can also be made through cheques to New Zealand Red Cross Supporter Services, PO Box 12140, Thorndon, Wellington 6144.
  • Cash donations can be made via Red Cross offices and shops.Donations can be made via New Zealand Post Group. Donations can be made in collection boxes located in Post shops nationwide or directly into a specially set up Kiwibank account – access number: 1219324, Account number: 38 9010 0620343 01. Kiwibank customers can also donate via calling Kiwibank on 0800 113 355.
  • New Zealand Red Cross recommends sending cash donations rather than goods. Donations allow us, where possible, to buy the relief items required in the affected area. This benefits the local economy and allows us to take into account local tastes, traditions and cultures. If you would like to donate goods, please give them to a Red Cross shop in your area with proceeds going towards our programmes, including the response to Cyclone Pam. There's more info about this on our website here: https://www.redcross.org.nz/about-us/donating-during-emergencies/
  • Donations to the Tropical Cyclone Pam appeal can be made here.

For more information contact:

Alice Montague, GM Communications and fundraising+64 27 687 5683alice.montague@redcross.org.nz

Hanna Butler, Communications manager+64 27 836 5529hanna.butler@redcross.org.nz

Twitter: @hannarosebutler

Pacific Disaster Reponse - How you can help