About two months after Cyclone Pam raged into Vanuatu with unprecedented force, YachtAid Global is continuing in its efforts to bring relief to the island nation.
The San Diego-based nonprofit has instituted a #TAGYAG fundraising campaign to continue gathering and delivering supplies to the island nation.
“The people of Vanuatu—already one of the most undeveloped countries in the world prior to the cyclone—desperately need our help,” said Mark Drewelow, founder of YachtAid Global. “Although we have had two yachts that responded immediately to the crisis and have helped save lives and stabilize this humanitarian crisis, there are scores of islands that are in need of basic necessities like water, food, clothing, fuel, building materials, school supplies, medication and medical supplies.”
Cyclone Pam was a shockingly powerful storm. Her 10-minute sustained wind speed was the highest ever recorded in the South Pacific: 155 mph, with some reports of gusts as high as 198 mph. (By comparison, Hurricane Katrina topped out at 174 mph.) The destruction from Cyclone Pam was massive, with 75 percent of Vanuatu’s population left without shelter and 96 percent of food crops destroyed.
The storm hit before most yachts arrive in the South Pacific for the annual cruising season, which begins around April, so only two yachts were in a position to respond through YachtAid Global. They had helipads and used their copters to deliver about 37,000 gallons of water and several tons of aid. The crew members administered medical care, cleared roadways, rebuilt structures and more. Their work was so noteworthy that the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs formally acknowledged the role that yachts can play in stabilizing humanitarian crises after major incidents like storms.
“The yacht captains and crews put it all on the line to go into a disaster zone and the unknown to help people,” Drewelow said. “The crew and their owners that support each aid collaboration are the real unsung heroes in this remarkable network.”
YachtAid Global’s #TAGYAG fundraising campaign is meant to build on that foundation. The group is asking yacht owners to donate a minimum of $50 to $100 per crew member, or $1,000 per business in the marine industry. The group also wants donors to use the hashtag #TAGYAG on Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets to encourage others to donate at this website address.
One leading donor thus far is Rivergate Marina & Shipyard in Australia, which helped to fund the transport of more than 6,000 gallons of water.
Donations of services can also be helpful: MTN Communications donated increased Internet bandwidth for the responding yachts, so they could coordinate relief activities.