News from Tanna!!
We have great news- everyone in our village and surrounding area is safe and unharmed. This includes our staff and volunteer team. The relief is huge.
Jeffrey Lahva, Nasi Tuan's managing director, said that the lack of serious injuries and deaths in Middlebush is a complete miracle, as there were some extremely terrifying moments and a lot of people had to run for their lives as buildings collapsed around and behind them. He said that if the cyclone had been at night, the death toll would have been very high. The fact that it was daytime meant people could see well enough to crawl and hide from flying debris. The entire village of Loanahuru crawled to Lowehau (where Nasi Tuan is based) with their children clinging to their stomachs.
Amazingly the Nasi Tuan office, processing house, and local church all remained standing and kept their roofs, along with two recently built houses. There are many many people sheltering in these buildings now, as nearly everything else has been destroyed. There were 8 water tanks outside the Nasi tuan office waiting to be installed, and these went flying around and travelled some incredible distances. Andrew said that debris abounds, and the trees are stripped bare of fruit, leaves and branches. All the above ground crops were destroyed.
The atmosphere sounds fairly intense. There are a lot of people sitting around in disbelief. However, as we had hoped, Nasi Tuan is already mobilised and working hard.
Jeffrey has organised a hygiene workshop, to be held tomorrow. Nasi tuan is located in a densely populated area, and the lack of housing and clean water will quickly breed sickness. So he has planned a workshop for the surrounding communities that will reinforce and emphasise the importance of hygiene practises. They will probably set in place some systems to help people maintain good hygiene and eliminate the risks.
May (a Nasi Tuan field worker) has been busy organising women to harvest Manioc (otherwise known as Cassava) and make it into flour. A cyclone will not necessarily kill root crops like manioc and kumara, but if left in the ground they will rot from the excess water. Using the solar dryers that Nasi Tuan installed last year (you can read more about them in previous blogs) the manioc that May and her team harvest will be dried and turned into flour, thus preserving it for the lean days ahead. Manioc flour can be used for all kinds of cooking, including bread and biscuits and pancakes and dumplings. May is teaching as she goes, showing women how to carry out the process.
As I mentioned in the last blog, Nasi tuan is a local grassroots organisation, and therefore can be extremely quick to mobilise. Our staff and volunteer team largely belong to local communities/villages, and are very much working 'from the ground up'. Of course, a disaster on this scale will definitely require outside aid and assistance, 'from the top down' so to speak, and relief supplies are being flown in and organised down at the airport and in centres in Lenakel (Tanna's main town). So an ideal outcome is that these two different operations will keep working until they 'meet in the middle' and can reach maximum effectiveness in helping the people of Tanna.
Networks are still down, so we are relying on andrews to give us info via his satellite phone. He is the only person in Central Tanna with a working communication device at this stage! Hopefully we can keep getting information out, especially concerning the food, water and housing situation.
Appreciate all your support everyone!!
(I've posted some pics from previous years, the 'before' pics. We will attempt to get some post-cyclone pics up once networks are up again).