Tropical Cyclone Pam

Some of  you may have heard that a HUGE cyclone was in the South Pacific this past weekend.   Here in Fiji, we heard about it about a week ahead of time.   About a week ago, local friends started posting things on social media about the huge cyclone coming to the region.   Everyone here began to prepare.   I got emails from the embassy and the school about emergency phone trees and ways to prepare for the storm.   We were told to be prepared to be without electricity (even though we are fortunate enough to have a generator), have extra money and bags packed on hand in case we have to evacuate quickly, and have plenty of water.    We also stocked up on food that doesn't require electricity to cook.  A friend told me that frequently before a cyclone, muggings are more prevalent because people panic, so in general...I was on high alert in every way.    In addition to this, Warren was out of town for the week, so I was a bit worried about dealing with the storm alone.  As it turned out, his training was cancelled due to the storm threats and flooding, so he came home mid-week.  I was relieved to have him here, just in case.   Most people here did not seem to worried, saying the storm was not really forecasted to directly hit Fiji....but just taking proper precautions...just in case.  We didn't even board up our house full of windows because we were told it was unnecessary.  I tried not to post too much about it because I didn't want to worry friends and family.

School was cancelled on Friday throughout the whole country due to the threat of high winds and flooding.   The day turned out to be like any other in Fiji.   Sunny, a little rain, some wind.   It reminded me of snow days in Atlanta where school got cancelled "just in case" and all we'd get was rain or maybe a light dusting of snow on the ground.   There were a few hours on Friday night when the storm was pretty heavy, but it was never scary.   The rest of the weekend was a little windy, cooler than normal (80's instead of 90's) and mostly cloudy.   It did get windy enough to knock down our two banana trees, but they were looking pretty lopsided already.

We were lucky.   This could be a whole other story.   Our Pacific Island neighbors have a whole other story.   Vanuatu was not nearly as lucky.  At this point, the official death toll is 8 with the unofficial death toll over 40.   The eye of the category 5 tropical cyclone passed directly over Port Villa, the capital and several of the other islands. The Government of Vanuatu estimates that 90% of homes have either been destroyed or have significant damage.  Communications infrastructure has been knocked out and there are grave fears for rural communities that were directly hit under the path of the cyclone's eye. Tens of thousands of people are homeless, without adequate food, water, shelter, or sanitation.     There is more information here (Higher Death Toll Feared) regarding the significant damage.  

Andie overheard us discussing the devastation there.   She was moved to tears and said that we need to help.  She's donating her tooth fairy money to Vanuatu's relief effort in addition to our family's donation.   If the cyclone took a different path, it could have done the same to people of this beautiful country we live in instead of our neighbors.   If it happened here, Fiji would need help....just as the people of Vanuatu need it.   Please consider donating to any of the below relief efforts.  

Emergency appeals that you can donate online to include:



UK and Europe

If you want to read more about it, here are a few links:

Here are some images from various news sources.  


  1. I was wondering about you but I wasn't sure how close you were to Vanuatu. Are there any PCVs there? Andie is a true reflection of her parents ...


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