Cyclone Pam – Anatomy of a disaster

Cyclone Pam – Anatomy of a disaster

The Pacific Institute of Public Policy is proud to unveil a precedent-setting new approach to recording and viewing history. Its interactive multimedia timeline of the devastation wrought by cyclone Pam in Vanuatu allows people to relive the event moment by moment.

Once the fear and the hype subside, the world’s attention moves on to the next disaster. We often forget to look back. Without the opportunity to reflect, we fail to understand how such events unfold.

Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu’s islands with unprecedented force. When the accounting was complete, an estimated 110,000 people on 22 islands were severely affected. Now, months later, reconstruction and recovery continue. The cost to the nation is still being calculated, and a policy response is being formulated.

Simply put, Vanuatu is paying the penalty for the sins of the developed world. It is well established that weather events become more severe as climate change advances. Although this country is one of the most vulnerable in the world to severe weather, no cyclone in recorded history has reached the intensity of Pam. Miraculously, few people died. But when all is said and done, the cost of cyclone Pam will run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

In the lead-up to the global climate conference in Paris at the end of this year and in light of the World Summit Humanitarian Pacific consultations currently underway in Auckland, PiPP has undertaken an investigation of how developing countries can respond to such devastation, and how the developed world can shoulder its responsibilities in the years to come.

But before that can happen, it’s necessary to understand the nature of the event itself. We have therefore compiled a timeline of events before, during and after Pam made landfall in Vanuatu. It provides a comprehensive, blow-by-blow account of the disaster.

The timeline (which starts with a short video intro) can be found here.

This project is ongoing. As new information comes to light it will be added. If you have a link, a document, image or video you would like to see included, please don’t hesitate to contact us at

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