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

Sadly, some of their houses were swept away, leaving them without shelter. But the important thing is all of the people are safe.

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, as well as 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, the Director of Agriculture, Antoine Ravo, conveyed from Waluwebue on Ambae yesterday.

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 went to Ambae on a chartered flight yesterday to visit the victims. They verified the extent of the damages 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 area therefore, it is risky to flash floodings and landslides.

The flash flood has increased the number of disasters to have hit the island of Ambae in the first months of this year to three.

Just recently, the government has rolled out assistance to communities in southeast and southwest as part of its Cyclone Hola Recovery Program, covering victims of ongoing volcano ash fall in the west and southern part of the island.