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Over 100 people displaced in Ambae in Vanuatu

115 people from Waluwebue village in north Ambae in Vanuatu escaped to safety, after a flash flood triggered by heavy rainfall on Saturday night.

According to the Vanuatu Daily Post, some of their houses were swept away, leaving families without shelter.

The flash flood tore a path through vegetation, and swept buildings and properties down to the coast.

The only church building in the community was destroyed including the community meeting hall and all classrooms of Naleleo Primary School.

115 people from 29 households were affected.

10 houses are badly damaged and are no longer safe to live in, said the Director of Agriculture, Antoine Ravo, speaking to the Daily Post from Waluwebue on Ambae.

Director Ravo from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), the Manager of Disaster Operations at the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), Peter Korisa, and MP for Ambae Alickson Vira, were part of a team that flew to Ambae on a chartered flight to visit the victims. They verified the extent of the damage and also delivered water.

Director Ravo said: "We visited Waluwebue village. Then we went to Waluriki where the people are now being accommodated.

"These people have lost a lot, their houses and belongings. It was emotional, they shed tears when we arrived".

Asked if gardens were destroyed, Director Ravo replied: "Root crops such as taro and yam were not damaged. In addition, their vegetables and 'aelan cabbages' are not greatly affected by volcano ash fall".

A woman from Waluwebue living in Port Vila said she was told by her parents and relatives on the island that they started to move to safer areas when they heard the rumbling sound of the flash flood.

"It happened around 1am when it was raining heavily. Everyone in the village fled. They stayed in the safe areas and turned to their village the next day, only to find their homes covered in mud and debris," she said.

The Forecast Section of the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD) issued a severe weather warning communities in low lying areas and close to river banks in the north and central islands to take extra precaution of possible flooding.

The warning was issued last Thursday and is still in effect.

Waluwebue village on Ambae is located on a slope that is prone to flooding and landslide.

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