APRIL 9, 2015
NOUMEA, New Caledonia—Beginning on the night of March 13, 2015, Tropical Cyclone Pam tore through the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu with Category 5 winds. Initial reports from the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in New Caledonia indicate that no Witnesses in Vanuatu were killed or injured during the cataclysmic storm. The scope of the damage is still being assessed, but it has been confirmed that on the island of Efate, 31 of the Witnesses’ homes were destroyed and 58 seriously damaged. On the island of Tanna, almost all of the homes of the Witnesses were either severely damaged or destroyed. Cyclone winds also destroyed three Kingdom Halls, while another was damaged by a falling tree.
A disaster relief committee based in Vanuatu’s capital, Port Vila, has provided food, potable water, and basic shelters to some 100 Witness families. In addition, one ton of relief supplies was sent to the Witnesses in Tanna to provide for their immediate needs. The branch office in Australia is working along with the branch office in New Caledonia to support the relief efforts, which will include building shelters, repairing damaged houses, and supplying bedding material, clothing, and other provisions.
Jean-Pierre Francine, a spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses in New Caledonia, states: “We are grateful for the aid from abroad as well as the government agencies that have assisted our fellow worshipers. Now that flights to Vanuatu have resumed, a representative of the branch office in New Caledonia and traveling ministers are visiting the island to offer not only practical support but also comfort and spiritual assistance.”
International: J. R. Brown, Office of Public Information, tel. +1 718 560 5000
New Caledonia: Jean-Pierre Francine, tel. +687 43 75 00