As he watched television pictures of the mayhem caused by the cyclone that hit them at the weekend, Alf felt enormous sympathy for the good people of Vanuatu who had borne the brunt of its savagery.
Citing the United Nations, Stuff says 24 people are confirmed dead and 3,300 have been displaced by the cyclone.
Radio and telephone communications with outer islands have not yet been established two days after what the country’s president called a “monster” storm.
The latest report came as Vanuatu’s president rushed back to his country, which has repeatedly warned it is already suffering devastating effects from climate change with coastal areas being washed away.
Looking weary and red-eyed, Baldwin Lonsdale told The Associated Press that Cyclone Pam destroyed or damaged 90 percent of the buildings in the capital alone.
Lonsdale was interviewed in Sendai, in northeastern Japan, where he had been attending a UN disaster conference when the cyclone struck.
“This is a very devastating cyclone in Vanuatu. I term it as a monster, a monster,” he said. “It’s a setback for the government and for the people of Vanuatu. After all the development that has taken place, all this development has been wiped out.”
Because of a breakdown in communications infrastructure, even he could not reach his family.
Officials in Vanuatu meanwhile were struggling to determine the scale of devastation from the cyclone, which tore through the nation early Saturday, packing winds of 270 kilometers an hour.
The damaged airport in Port Vila has reopened, allowing some aid and relief flights to reach the country.
Lonsdale said a wide range of items were needed, from tarpaulins and water containers to medical supplies and construction tools. Those on the ground pleaded for help to arrive quickly.
Many of the city’s residents spent Monday clearing away downed trees and cleaning up what was left of their houses. Those left homeless were generally staying with loved ones whose houses had withstood the storm, or sleeping in temporary shelters provided by aid agencies, said UNICEF spokeswoman Alice Clements.
Access to food and water is an urgent concern, said Clements, who is in Port Vila. Much of the city’s water supply has been tainted, so residents are boiling water to drink.
But while being gobsmacked by the damage he saw on the telly, Alf wondered about the name attached to the natural phenomenon that inflicted the destruction
Haven’t all of the Pams in the Grumbles’ acquaintance been considerate, placid and gentle creatures?
No – not all.
Alf must confess to being acquainted with a somewhat more rambunctious Pam.
A clue: she once was an MP with the Alliance Party.
Another clue: she did some PR work (spectacularly) for the Internet Party.
Yep – you’ve got it. Pam Corkery.