Taken from ABC News in relation to TC Pam:
Many development experts agree it was due to a combination of traditional knowledge, improved communications technology and disaster preparedness.
– light weight housing materials flex better and are scattered quicker doing less human damage
– local communities are used to cyclones so are more prepared
– SMS warnings were given early
– the RC in Vanuatu spend much time preparing locals for cyclones, eg teach techniques to secure houses, prepare food gardens and store emergency food.

This makes sense when a community has plans in place for these events and luckily building materials are light and simple to reconstruct. SMS warnings are vital here, as are sirens in Hawaiian islands.