Update #1 on Vanuatu for Standby Task Force members

This is an update on the situation as we understand it with regards to Vanuatu and an assessment of the likelihood of an activation. We issued an alert to members about the situation in Vanuatu yesterday (13 March 2015).

The situation at 1500 UTC 14 March 2015

Vanuatu (population 264,700) was hit by a Cat 5 storm (Pam) on 13 March 2015.

It is estimated that many homes have been damaged or destroyed as many are built with natural and local materials that are vulnerable to strong winds and floods.

Pam has destroyed all mobile towers except one in Port Vila resulting in a complete lack of communication between Efate and both north and south provinces.

The UN-OCHA Pacific Humanitarian Team and partners are responding on the ground. http://reliefweb.int/report/vanuatu/pacific-humanitarian-team-responding-cyclone-pam

Vanuatu’s President Baldwin Lonsdale has called for international help http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-31887286

The role of Standby Task Force

The Standby Task Force has not yet been activated.

We are in contact with Save the Children, UNDAC, Oxfam, NDMO UN-OCHA and New Zealand and Australian agencies.

We’ve been running two AIDR (http://aidr.qcri.org/) collections. The first collection captured defined keywords. This produced over 90,000 hits with no actionable reports. The other gathered every tweet sent from the affected area. This has been running for last 3 hours with no tweets found. This reflects the lack of power and connectivity following the storm. There are very few reports from on the ground sources.

There are some photographs being tweeted from around the world. These started off from FB accounts and other social media outlets.

We are collecting photographs and publishing these on a map. If you are able to help with this task please drop in to the Standby Task Force general chat room on Skype.

Likelihood of activation

We do not expect an activation within the next 12 hours as there is currently not enough information to process.

The Core Team continues to monitor the situation. We’d like to ask you, and your fellow SBTF members, to continue to prepare for an activation.

Please continue to keep an eye on your emails, the Ning, Facebook and the main Skype chat and be ready to volunteer.

We’ll keep you informed as the situation develops.

Keep in touch

If you’ve got any questions, comments, suggestions then drop me or anyone in the core team an email or ask in the SBTF general chat room on Skype.

ben@standbytaskforce.com or coreteam@standbytaskforce.com

Thanks, and I’m sure all our thoughts and hopes remain with the people of Vanuatu

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