Cyclone Judy wreaks havoc across Vanuatu, Red Cross ready to respond

Cyclone Judy has left a massive trail of destruction in its path across Vanuatu as over 160,000 people are estimated to be affected.

A category 4 cyclone with destructive winds of up to 150 km per hour and gusting to 200 km per hour, has also caused severe damage to infrastructure, buildings, connectivity, and crops.

Port Vila and Tanna felt the brunt of the cyclone with power outage and water cuts in some of the worst affected communities.

Vanuatu Red Cross is working with authorities to ascertain how many households require immediate assistance as well as provide first aid to individuals.

Vanuatu Red Cross Secretary General, Dickinson Tevi said:

“We are trying our best to reach the worst affected communities. The disaster was massive and as a result, some roads leading to communities have been damaged while some roads have been blocked by fallen trees and debris.”

“That’s how much of an impact this cyclone had. Our Red Cross volunteers are on the ground and working with authorities to reach these communities as we are yet to find out the full extent of damages in these places.”

Immediate pre-positioned relief items such as tarpaulins for shelter are ready to be distributed to 2500 affected households. In addition, hygiene kits for washing and cleaning, solar lanterns, mosquito nets and cooking items are also ready for distribution.

Head of the IFRC Pacific Office, Katie Greenwood, said:

“We must act swiftly as people are in urgent need of short-term relief especially with basic needs such as temporary shelter and access to clean and safe drinking water.

"A disaster of this scale is too big for one country to deal with. It will need a coordinated regional effort to first provide immediate relief, and then help communities rebuild their lives and livelihoods in the longer term."

Hours after cyclone Judy caused havoc, another tropical low pressure system has entered Vanuatu's area of responsibility as of today and is predicted to follow the same path as TC Judy. The potential for this tropical low to develop into a tropical cyclone within the next 24 hours and move towards Vanuatu is high.

The increased frequency and intensity of these cyclones is a reality our Red Cross Societies and the communities they work with are facing due to the impacts of climate change and shifting weather patterns.

Vanuatu was last affected by a cyclone of this scale in 2015 when category 5 Cyclone Pam caused widespread damage across Port Vila, affecting at least 166,000 people.


Photo: Vanuatu Red Cross Society  Caption: Vanuatu Red Cross volunteers getting relief items ready for distribution to affected communities after Cyclone Judy in March 2023.