On 21 and 22 November 2016, the worst natural disaster in recent history hit the French overseas territory of New Caledonia. Several days of exceptional rainfall caused deadly flooding and two devastating landslides in the Houaïlou district, 235km from the capital Noumea. In just one hour, the discharge of the Néaoua River rose from tens of cubic metres per second, to 600m3 per second causing the worst flooding in living memory and scouring or silting up nearly 10% of the surface of the agricultural plain.
Around a hundred landslides combined, forming mudslides in small catchment basins, engulfing ten homes and leaving eight people missing. In such an emergency situation, critical information over the affected area was urgently required in order to help first responders plan emergency response on the ground. Equally, accurate and very fresh imagery was also immediately needed to further understand the impact of the event and assess the damages caused by the disaster.