Minimize In the aftermath of Cyclone Pam

When category 5 Cyclone Pam swept over the island nation of Vanuatu in March 2015, two of the hardest hit islands were Tanna and Erromango. While Erromango is home to just a few thousand people, about 30,000 people live on Tanna. On 17 March 17,-three days after the storm hit the islands-the Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8 acquired imagery revealing the widespread effects of the storm.

Before Pam, Erromango appeared dark green due to the lush tropical vegetation that thrives on it. The cyclone's fierce winds downed many trees, stripped vegetation, and coated leaves in damaging salt spray, leaving the islands with a browner hue in the aftermath.

Pam took a heavy human toll. The storm killed six people and seriously injured many more, according to media reports. The homes of 80 percent of the residents of Tanna were either damaged or destroyed. Meanwhile, ongoing water and food shortages-and severe damage to the island's only hospital-mean the humanitarian situation could worsen.

View the full resolution image, and comparisons of the islands before and after Cyclone Pam.

Credit: NASA Earth Observatory / United States Geological Survey (USGS)

Erromango Island


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