While still struggling to recover from the devastation of Cyclone Idai in March, Mozambique was hit again by another cyclone, Kenneth, in April. MAF flights continue to deliver aid and relief to those in need in the midst of the unprecedented devastation from two severe tropical storms making landfall so close together.
MAF has deployed our Disaster Response (DR) Team to northern Mozambique to respond to Cyclone Kenneth. The category 4 storm hit on Thursday April 25th, with winds of 140mph cutting a devastating pathway across the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
Members of MAF’s DR Team travelled to the area on Friday and were able to carry our aerial assessments for the INCG (Mozambique Disaster Management Agency) on Saturday April.
Flying the Cessna Caravan, the team surveyed areas of the country affected by Cyclone Kenneth to survey the damage. The team noted a ‘narrow band of destruction’ with horrific damage and many villages described as ‘flattened.’
Gemma Connel, the head of the regional Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), was on the assessment flight for the aid agency OCHA and described what she saw on the news agency’s Twitter feed. “We’ve just come back from an aerial assessment where we’ve seen some of the villages that were hardest hit by the eye of Cyclone Kenneth. These villages have been entirely wiped out, they look like they’ve been run over by a bulldozer.”
Outlining the need and next steps, Gemma continued, “These people are asking first for shelter, then they need water and purification and they need food. We are going to work closely with the government, we are here in support of INGC who are coordinating this response to mobilize the supplies needed, to get these people assistance as quickly as possible. The weather is still bad, it’s still raining but thankfully the winds have died down.”
Tropical Cyclone Kenneth passed through the Comoros on April 24th, hitting the northern Ngazidja Island. Initial reports suggest that the number of dead and injured on the Mozambique mainland is likely to be quite low. The northern province is comparatively sparsely populated area with more high ground than the southern area of Beira which was devastated by floods following Cyclone Idai recently.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) highlighted the unprecedented nature of the Cyclone Kenneth. “This is the first time in recorded history that two strong tropical cyclones have hit Mozambique in the same season, with Tropical Cyclone Kenneth following on the heels of Tropical Cyclone Idai, which made landfall on 14 March, leaving more than 600 people dead and an estimated 1.85 million people in need in Mozambique alone.”
On Sunday, MAF started flying shelter and food to Ibo Island and conducted further assessment flights for the government of Mozambique. There are plans to deploy the VSAT communications system to provide communication support.
On Tuesday, after many days of rain, the team was greeted with a sunny morning for flights. They quickly took advantage of the favourable conditions, with the first flight going out to Matemo Island, an area severely impacted by Cyclone Kenneth, but who had not been reached by any outside aid. This flight carried a medical team to further assess the area, and to tend to any urgent medical needs.
The second flight brought a rescue team and supplies to Ibo, where the DR team was also able to set up the VSAT to support communications in the relief efforts.
Please join us in praying for our Mozambique team and all the people who are affected by this disaster.