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Vanuatu: Tropical Cyclone Donna Emergency Plan of Action n° MDRVU004 Final Report

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Description of the disaster

On 2 May 2017, the Fiji Meteorological Service provided an early alert for a tropical disturbance (TD21F) forming to the north of Vanuatu. Over the ensuing 24 hours TD21F continued to strengthen and by midnight on 3 May 2017 had developed into Tropical Cyclone (TC) Donna, a category 1 system. Moving in a westerly direction, TC Donna passed north of the Vanuatu group as a category 3 cyclone within 50-100km of the Torres Islands in the Torba province. The system continued west before turning south and passing to the west of Sanma, Malampa and Shefa provinces. TC Donna was later classified as a category 5 cyclone by the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department as it tracked southwards towards New Caledonia sustaining wind speeds of over 215km/hr. TC Donna continued towards New Caledonia and was downgraded to a Tropical Low on 11 May 2017.

Summary of response

Overview of Host National Society

Vanuatu Red Cross Society (VRCS) works through one headquarters office in Port Vila and six branches covering all administrative provinces of Vanuatu. It has 34 staff based in the national office and 9 staff in the provinces in addition to approximately 508 volunteers throughout the country. Following its experience of Tropical Cyclone Pam (TC Pam) in 2014, VRCS made significant investment in developing its capacity and experience in disaster response. Almost 100 volunteers received emergency response training and stocks of emergency relief supplies were pre-positioned in six depots/warehouses throughout the country. In its recovery operation following TC Pam, VRCS focused on building the resilience of local communities to be better prepared to face future disasters. This included establishing and training Community Disaster Climate Change Committees (CDCCC) and volunteers.

VRCS was well prepared for TC Donna. The Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) was activated on 3 May 2017 and a DMIS entry posted on 4 May 2017. Upon confirmation of the development of TC Donna, staff and volunteers in national headquarters and branches were placed on high alert to prepare for the storm and support the evacuation of vulnerable communities as required. A total 300 volunteers were on standby to respond to TC Donna many of whom are trained Emergency Response Team (ERT) members.