Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Pam slammed into Vanuatu on Saturday 14 March with winds of up to 250 kilometres per hour, and gusts up to 350 kilometres per hour, causing widespread devastation across the Oceanian island nation.
Communications networks were severely damaged across the country with only one mobile tower in the capital, Port Vila, left operational. Due to damage to HF networks, the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) was unable to make contact with provinces or emergency services outside of the capital.
Municipal power grid was disrupted and authorities estimate it may be weeks before power is fully restored. The Port Vila Airport terminal, towers and airfield have also been badly damaged.
While not officially actived, the Government of Vanuatu requested support from the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC). The ETC rapidly responded and worked closely with the Government of Vanuatu in order to meet the ICT needs and ensure an efficient and coordinated humanitarian operation.
Although the operation was initially schedule to close by May, a delay in the restoration of the national network backbone, as indicated by the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), triggered the extension of the ETC’s support until mid-June.
Three months after the Cyclone Pam devastated Vanuatu, the ETC has successfully concluded its mission in the Pacific country in June 2015.