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Welcome to Michael's blog. Michael Andrew, (aka Michael The Maven) is a freelance producer, photography instructor, tech innovator, and when needed, disaster aid specialist. Disclaimer: Michael is a participant in Bhphoto & Amazon affiliate programs that provides an advertising commission if you purchase through links on this website.


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03.24.15         vanuatu disaster relief effort  

Vanuatu Disaster Relief Effort Update #2


I don't have much time and even less internet connection.

Long story short:

The Vanuatu government is requesting coordination with all NGO groups, so before any deliveries are made we have to have eyes on. I also GPS tag and take pictures of the destruction and current living conditions.

We heard reports of people who were virtually inaccessible, so Craig and I took a boat up to the north west coast of Tanna and then hiked in to assess 3 communities, about 1,000 people total. None of them had been contacted by any aid organizations, some had all of their buildings destroyed. Many had moved down to caves on the beach.

The biggest need of all 3 communities is water, their normal supplies, either pipes from underground wells or storm drainage catchment from roofs, were also destroyed. Many are drinking dirty water they can find or in some cases sea water. They have very limited food supplies, about 5-7 days worth. We even used up all of our own water, about 5 liters, to reach them. We slept in hammocks for the night, and eventually used out water filters and iodine pills to drink from their same sources, as well as drinking from coconuts twice.

We hiked back out, made our report and have been given permission to help these victims. I'm packing now to fly over with about 2 tons of bottled water to be delivered by helicopter, we have 3 potential drop zones but the most likely one is a few miles from where it needs to be, so in that case, they will drop me off with a local guide, we will organize the distribution from that point, I'll camp the night and hike out the next day with the guide. This delivery is critical as we are hoping it will establish a pipeline for more aid to come through

I'll keep you updated when I can.

- Michael
Boat ride
Destroyed Village
My Hammock
Craig and I ran out of water getting to them, they were very gracious to share a coconut with us until we could a useable water source. It was delicious.
Some of the villages are only accessible by foot or.....helicopter.
Between the hike and the heat, we were just burning through our water. We had to refill twice using local water, while not the cleanest, we were able to purify and use.
The villagers were all very happy to see us. We were the first to reach them since the cyclone hit.
In all we made contact with 3 communities, about 1000 people all who are in desperate need of water, food and shelter.
This 7 year old boy killed a small parrot with his sling shot. We then watched him pluck the feathers and then eat it....raw.
This is what happens when 180+ mph winds hit a lush, rainforest island. Essentially most of the vegetation was blown right off the trees, effectively killing most of them and ruining farms. The whole island looks like this, becoming a huge fire hazard.
This is my hammock where I spent the night in Lowental Villiage. We used the hammocks because the are very small to pack, light (less than 2lbs) and they are enclosed so no need for a mosquito net. It was surprisingly cold, but I had one of those emergency blankets that worked great. I even had an extra battery pack so I watched a movie on my iPhone before drifting off. All I needed was some ice cream. Craig didn't have an emergency blanket, I felt bad for him but we know what we are dealing with now to spend the night out there again.

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