Red Cross responds to flooding in Solomon Islands as heavy rains deluge isolated communities

Published: 14 July 2015

Honiara – 10th July, 2015. After days of heavy rains in the Solomon Islands, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is warning that thousands of people in remote island communities will require emergency assistance. In Choiseul, Isabel, and Western provinces the severe weather has left  many homes and buildings damaged and throughout the country many roads and access routes are also flooded. 

“The deluge of rain has made travel to some of the most remote and hard hit communities impossible. Now the rains have finally stopped, emergency Red Cross volunteers are travelling to Choiseul, Isobel, Malaita and Western province communities to fully assess the damage ” said Cameron Vidu, Disaster Risk Manager at the Solomon Islands Red Cross.

Initial reports suggest approximately 10,000 people have already been affected by the severe weather, although these figures are expected to change in the coming days as full assessments are carried out. The Solomon Islands Red Cross has relief stocks pre-positioned including tarpaulins, shelter kits and hygiene items.

Rains have been pouring down on the Solomon Islands since the end of June, intensifying on Wednesday 1st July as Cyclone Raquel moved towards the country. Despite the cyclone being officially downgraded to a tropical disturbance, rains continued to sweep through the country causing damage to houses and crops. 

Wes Tongaka is a Red Cross Branch Officer and is travelling to Western Province as part of the emergency assessment team. 

“We are travelling to remote communities in Gizo, Western Province to find out exactly how many people have been affected by the cyclone” he said.

“We are particularly worried about damage to peoples’ houses and to their food gardens because of the heavy rain, and we know that many people are going to need Red Cross support.”  

The Solomon Islands Red Cross is working closely with the governments’ national disaster management office on the emergency assessments and response and to prepare for any potential flooding scenarios.  

“The Pacific is currently experiencing unusual weather patterns and the heavy rains experienced by the Solomon Islands, particularly during the dry season, are very worrying and require close monitoring” said Stephanie Zoll, Pacific regional disaster management coordinator for IFRC.

“With tropical storm Nangka also threatening the Marshall Islands and Kiribati and Papua New Guinea now facing the arrival of heavy rains, we are seeing a number of severe weather events which demonstrates the need for year round disaster preparedness” she continued.

The rise of unusual weather patterns is being linked to the effects of El Niño; a warming of surface oceans waters in the Pacific which can have an intense effect on weather patterns increasing the risk of heavy rainfall, drought and cyclones.  

To help communities to adapt to the growing threat of climate change, the IFRC has been working with Red Cross National Societies and other partners throughout the Pacific in the area of disaster risk reduction for many years. Working in local communities, the Red Cross is transferring disaster preparedness knowledge, providing skills and training and also investing in mitigation and early warning projects.   

For further information contact: 

In Honiara:

Becky Webb

Communications delegate for the Pacific, IFRC; Mob: +677 8754301