The Category 5 cyclone swept through the island nations of Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga, causing flooding, power outages and leaving many homeless at a time when these nations are deploying their own strategies against the coronavirus pandemic.
UnitingWorld has been in communication with our partners in the region as they begin to assess the damage.
International Programs Manager Aletia Dundas said the Cyclone caused the greatest damage in Vanuatu ravaging the islands of Santo, Ambae, Pentecost and parts of the Malekula Islands.
“Our partner, the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu (PCV), initially lost touch with colleagues but has since learnt of the devastation in Santo. There has been roof and likely equipment damage to the eye clinic and significant damage at the Talua Theological Training Institute forcing the college to close until repairs can be done,” Aletia reported.
“Availability of food and access to clean water are the immediate concerns.”
In Solomon Islands, a boat carrying villagers to their homes in Malaita Province capsized leaving 28 people missing. Fallen trees caused power outages including at the referral hospital.
Our partners, the Methodist Church in Fiji also reported flooding damage to infrastructure, buildings and gardens, which are an important food source.
UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer has written a pastoral letter to our partners ensuring them of our prayers at this time.
“I encourage Uniting Church members to pray for all those impacted by Cyclone Harold, and that particularly as the threat of the coronavirus looms, that recovery efforts can be sustained to people left homeless and without access to food or water,” said Dr Palmer.
In response to a request from the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu, she encouraged people to pray at 9am every Wednesday for our Pacific brothers and sisters.
“May God sustain our Pacific partner churches with strength, wisdom, compassion and hope, as they embody the Gospel of Christ at this difficult time.”