Cyclone Idai and floods cause massive destruction, deaths in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi

MAPUTO (March 18, 2019) – Countries in southern Africa have been hit by what is possibly the deadliest cyclone to date in the region. Cyclone Idai has caused at least 150 deaths, and affected more than 1.5 million people. The cyclone hit Mozambique first on Thursday night, with the city of Beira and its surrounding villages being hardest hit. It continued from there to Zimbabwe and Malawi. There is an ongoing threat of loss of further lives due to ongoing flooding within the cyclone-affected region. And, with rainfall expected to continue, the damage may not be over yet.

Marc Nosbach, CARE's Country Director in Mozambique, said:

Roads to the areas hit by the cyclone have been completely blocked by fallen trees and rubble. The infrastructure has been completely destroyed. Initial reports indicate significant damage to houses and buildings, including to health facilities and schools. There is a complete power outage since Thursday’s rainfall. Telephone and internet communications are down.

In Zimbabwe, the storm caused high winds and heavy precipitation in the east of the country, causing rivers to overflow. At least 31 deaths have been reported so far and more than 100 people are still missing. Jan Schollaert, CARE’s country director in Zimbabwe, said:

There has been flash flooding, landslides and destruction of livelihoods and properties. CARE is assessing the situation to respond based on identified needs and in coordination with other aid agencies, but we know for sure that the needs of the affected people will be massive.

At least 56 people in Malawi died as a result of flash floods preceding the cyclone. According to Matthew Pickard, CARE’s country director in Malawi:

The rainfall has calmed down for now but the skies are grey and cloudy. Floods caused significant destruction last week. With the cyclone leading to more rainfall, the already inundated areas may face even greater destruction and losses. We are working with the local authorities to support the affected communities and have deployed staff to assess the needs and gather the necessary data, to ensure our response is effective and addresses people’s needs.

In Mozambique, the heavy rains will raise the water levels in the rivers nearby the city of Beira and potentially cause floods that will impact a wider area in Manica and Sofala provinces. At least 66 people in Mozambique have died because of the cyclone, and the number is expected to increase in the coming few days.

Julia, a 37-year-old mother of three who fled with her children from their village to the city of Beira, said:

Our home has been destroyed by the cyclone. We lost everything. Nothing is left. We don’t have food, clothes, blankets for the night. I have experienced storms in previous years. But this was the first year I have experienced anything like this.

CARE is working with other organisations and local authorities in Mozambique to minimise the impact of the cyclone with agricultural support through the provision of seeds and livestock. Aid organisations will also provide water purification tablets, menstrual hygiene items, jerry cans and soap, emergency latrines and hygiene promotion support to prevent water contamination and water-borne diseases.

CARE places a special emphasis in all of its programming on women and girls, who are normally the worst affected by disasters and who often prioritise their families’ needs ahead of their own. However, as the impact of the cyclone is expected to worsen, and in order for aid organisations, including CARE, to help more people effectively and reach the most vulnerable, at least US$16,920,000 is needed in order to provide the needed support to affected communities.

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