Vanuatu’s efforts to respond to the impact of Cyclone Lola face transportation challenges due to the unavailability of the country’s patrol boat and helicopters. The ship, RVS Tachouare, which could serve as vital transport for relief efforts, is undergoing repairs in Australia after being damaged during twin cyclones Kevin and Judy in March. The country’s helicopter services have also been sent back to Australia.
Prime Minister Charlot Salwai noted the lack of government transport would hamper recovery efforts in the provinces severely affected by Cyclone Lola. Vanuatu needs alternative means of transportation, such as a barge that can be directly beached on the islands, to assist in relief efforts.
Salwai visited the affected areas on Ambrym Island and Pentecost Island via a French army helicopter, acknowledging that the damages caused by Lola were worse than those caused by Cyclone Harold in 2020. Pentecost Island, a major kava producer in the country, has seen its crops damaged, leading the government to find ways to help kava farmers sell their products and support those affected.
The impact of Cyclone Lola is devastating, with shelter as the primary concern for the affected population. Homes and houses have been severely damaged, and the priority will shift to food once reserves run out. The storm has disrupted education in the region, particularly affecting students in Penama province. Efforts are underway to support these communities and help them rebuild.