Almost one month after Cyclone Pam hit, the people of Vanuatu are slowly returning to normality with help from the Australian Defence Force.
About 500 ADF personnel remain deployed to Vanuatu in support of Operation Pacific Assist and they continue to play a major part in Australia’s relief effort by repairing key infrastructure, restoring basic services and delivering vital humanitarian assistance and disaster relief stores.
Businesses, restaurants and markets have re-opened and importantly, children have now returned to school.
Commander of the Joint Task Force 665, Captain Jay Bannister, said the ADF had made a big impact during the past four weeks. They have had a tireless work ethic and a commitment to help those in need.
The ADF has delivered more than 200 aircraft pallets of food, water, medical equipment and shelter since their arrival on 15 March 2015.
In Tafea province, Army engineers and Black Hawk helicopters, along with HMAS Tobruk and the Navy MRH-90 helicopter, supported by RAAF C130J Hercules aircraft, have transported 100 tonnes of food into and around the province.
On Tanna, the engineers have repaired crucial water pumps. They are returning the badly damaged Lenakel hospital to a functional state and have repaired several schools and fixed the Lapangtowa Church in time for an Easter service.
While HMAS Tobruk has concluded its support to the Erromango communities and the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment finalises its mission in Tanna, the transition from immediate relief to long-term recovery is well under way.
Local assessment teams, led by Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) have been deployed across the archipelago to plan the future recovery and restoration effort.
Captain Jay Bannister, Commander Joint Task Force 665, is available for interview upon request to Media Operations.
Imagery will be available through the Defence Image Gallery: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20150618
Chloe Petch (Minister Andrews’ Office): 0477 395 356
Defence Media Operations: 02 6127 1999