Cyclone Pam rebuilding and recovery could take two years

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Cyclone Pam rebuilding and recovery could take two years

By Martin Thomas, chief executive, Habitat for Humanity Australia

It may take more than two years to rehouse the tens of thousands of victims who have been made homeless from Cyclone Pam.

Cuts to Australia’s aid budget could hamper Australia’s ability to adequately respond to such disasters across the Pacific which is becoming increasingly vulnerable to more severe and frequent natural disasters.

The incredible scale of the destruction in Port Vila – where up to 80 percent of all buildings have been damaged or destroyed – is extraordinary.

Added to the destruction of so many houses is the damage to essential infrastructure such as roads and the supply of water, power and communications. Then there is the remoteness of the many islands that are still yet to be reached by aid workers.

The experience of the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan shows the challenges to a fast recovery. Almost 18 months after that disaster an estimated 25,000 people are still living in transitional sites, evacuation centres and tent settlements. Worse, it is estimated that 95,000 families are living in emergency or makeshift shelters that are deemed ‘unsafe’.

It could take as long as six months even to provide basic transitional housing, dormitories or tents, to the thousands of homeless families.

The initial response to this disaster by the Australian government should be applauded but with the aid budget suffering big cuts, our ability to help those hit hard by these super storms may be hampered.

There is huge need to support the tens of thousands of people affected by this disaster and agencies have begun providing medical aid, clean water and food. There is also a desperate requirement for temporary shelter, before repairs and rebuilding of homes can commence.

Habitat for Humanity has sent staff to Vanuatu to assess the situation and to play a lead role in coordinating with government agencies and partners on the disaster response operation.

Our immediate response efforts will include emergency shelter assistance. Based on funding availability, the longer-term response will follow Habitat’s model of assisting affected communities with housing solutions, ranging from emergency shelter interventions to permanent home reconstruction.

Donate here to Habitat for Humanity’s disaster response appeal.

Comments (5)

  1. Ray Cleary
    Ray Cleary
    5 years ago

    Cyc Pam recovery and the long road.
    I’m from Whitsundays, spent two weeks at Byfeild after Marcia. My local electrician friend down there could use a hand attending to supply reconnection and pump failures, a not for profit trip, though necessary to turn over enough to cover my own financial obligations. As infrastructure returns i would be available to use my trade to add services to the immediate habitat.
    Ping back or pass on if you think i can help a bit.
    Ray 0419 480296

    • Habitat for Humanity Australia
      Habitat for Humanity Australia
      5 years ago

      Hi Ray,
      Thank you for your generous offer. We are currently still assessing the need and how we can best assist. We’ll update our website regularly if you’d like to check in for the latest developments and plans.

  2. James Zimmer
    James Zimmer
    5 years ago

    Hi I am ex army field engineer and have been working in the civil construction industry for the last 30 years and hold the position civil superintendent . That’s building roads/underground services/small bridges/earthworks/and small structures. I am unemployed at the moment and I can’t volunteer for free as I have bills to pay. But would love to help out as a paid worker. I live in Townsville and I am used to this type of thing.

    • Habitat for Humanity Australia
      Habitat for Humanity Australia
      5 years ago

      Hi James,
      Thank you for your comment. Habitat is responding by providing initial temporary shelter options and we are assessing the need and what role we can play. Our programs are generally coordinated by Habitat staff who work closely with affected communities and community members, so at this stage we would not have any opportunities for paid work. We’ll be updating our website with the latest developments and plans for other ways you can help.

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    4 years ago

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