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Lawrence’s story

Lawrence and his family are one of the thousands whose homes were destroyed by Cyclone Pam when it made landfall on March 13. This is their story…

As Tropical Cyclone Pam tore through Vanuatu in the middle of the night, Lawrence, a 71-year-old grandfather huddled inside his home with his family.

When the raging winds, gusting at 320km/h, tore off part of their roof they desperately sought shelter under some debris. Lawrence’s wife became trapped when roofing fell on her and he sustained deep cuts while trying to free her from the metal sheeting.

“When the roof flew off, we tried to move. The wind was so strong we didn’t hear the big tree falling. The roof, the walls, everything collapsed on us. There was nowhere to go. I was thinking, ‘how am I going to be saved? A huge tree fell on my house. I’m supposed to die’.”

After huddling together throughout the long night, when the storm began to subside Lawrence and his family climbed out of what was left of their home – little more than a pile of rubble.

Despite the terrifying experience, Lawrence is grateful that he and his family survived. He is eager to begin rebuilding their home. Like many of his neighbours, he has the skills needed but not the tools or materials.

“I’ve lived here since 2005,” Lawrence says. “I want to stay here in the village. We just need some timber, corrugated iron roofing… and a chainsaw.”

Lawrence recounted his frightening experience to Geno Teofilo, a Habitat for Humanity aid worker who is in Vanuatu assessing the damage. Geno is part of a team surveying some of the worst hit areas and coordinating immediate shelter assistance.

Cyclone Pam is the worst natural disaster to hit Vanuatu. And sadly Lawrence’s story is all too familiar across the country.

14,000 homes have been destroyed, leaving 65,000 people in need of emergency shelter. On some islands up to 90% of homes, schools and other buildings have been destroyed or are severely damaged. Thousands of families face having to completely rebuild their homes, and their lives.

Donate today and help provide initial temporary shelter options and building materials and tools to help people like Lawrence rebuild.

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