Cyclone Pam plowed through the SW central Pacific, battering the island nation of Kiribati before strengthening and hitting Vanuatu head on. At its strongest the cyclone generated winds up to 200 miles and hour and waves over 15 feet high. While the media focused on the destruction in Vanuatu, Kiribati was largely ignored. While Cyclone Pam did not directly hit Tarawa or any of the other islands in Kiribati, the waves Pam left in her wake pummeled and flowed over parts of the island and others that rise out of the ocean by only a few meters.
“I have never seen this kind of destruction from waves here in Kiribati,” Dr. Kautu Tenaua, Kiribati minister of health reported. “We had to conduct an emergency evacuation of our maternity ward at Betio Hospital because water was pounding the outside of the building and crashing through doors and windows. It was frightening and horrible.”