Saturday, April 7, 2007

In the eye of the storms

While in Vanuatu, there were many natural disasters and dangers. Most of these were completely unknown to me at the time so the Lord was gracious and protected. Known to the world were the earthquakes and tsunami warnings when we first arrived on Espiritu Santo island. These earthquakes occured while I was in a bush village, Ipayato in south Santo. Here is the information on those earthquakes (that I never felt).,2933,260983,00.html?sPage=fnc.specialsections/naturaldisaster

Also known to the world was the tsunami that ended up devastating part of the Solomon Islands to the NW of Vanuatu ( This did have some impact on Santo island as noted by some missionaries I met while I was on Santo(read below). However, the day of the tsunami, I was down south of Santo, having just arrived back on Efate island at Port Vila, the capital. I was back at Vila to do visa applications and fly out the next day (Tuesday the 3rd of April) to the States. I heard about the tsunami on the radio while in a store copying paperwork for visas for my team but the locals were all saying it wasn't a big deal and wasn't going to hit so we weren't worried about it. Fortunately, our flights were still on and there were no problems for us. Here is how it impacted Luganville though (where I spent most of my time and where my team is looking at being stationed our first year in Vanuatu). This is quoted from some missionaries, the Scrimsher's. "Yesterday the ocean rose about a meter here at Luganville and then slowly receded after an 8.2 quake up by the Solomon Islands where they did receive devastating damage. The poor people here were in panic. It was all handled so poorly. They don’t know what to do, where to go, when it was coming or when it was over. It was so sad. Our domestic help was here so when we learned of the tsunami and could still see from our house the ocean was high (we never received any warning before it hit here) we drove to her village just outside of town and the people there were just panicked! They were packing things and moving on top hills and the problem had already come and gone plus they were quite some distance from any water and would have been safe at their homes. The police here weren’t even notified until just minutes before it was to come and it came early so in about 10 minutes they went up and down main street and people closed up businesses, and people scattered. They let schools out, but the kids didn’t know what to do and were hiding in the bushes and scared to death. Oh, my, for an emergency system that works here. It reminds of when the Rapture will occur and people left behind will be in panic."

The one natural disaster that did directly impact me was a cyclone, but it was very mild and passed over, praise the Lord! This one was seemingly unknown to the world. Here is the picture of it's starting path with Vanuatu being the green on the far right in the widest band. When this was to hit I was with my sister and her kids and my dad on Espiritu Santo island and the guys from my team were all on Malakula island. When we were getting reports, it was to hit Santo and Malakula specifically but it ended up losing steam and dying out. Here is an article about it: and this is the link to where I got the picture of "Cyclone Becky" shown here
Here are some of my pictures of what it did do right in the camp where I was staying and in the ocean a football field away from where I was. It ended up being just really windy, really rainy, and felling quite a few trees and branches. Some of the guys who work at the camp where we were staying shuttered up the buildings and vehicles were moved, but otherwise we just waited it out. The guys on Malakula were in a tin building waiting it out and saw about the same kind of damage there. They have some great video footage though of kids from a local school there who were launching out their little canoes in the crazy waves to get to a nearby island they row over to Malakula from every day. I guess all the kids made it over to their island. Wow. Just for contrast, I included a picture at the bottom of what the ocean normally looks like from this same vantage point.

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