After Cyclone Freddy, flood risk lingers for southern Africa

MOZAMBIQUE FLOODS: A site of people on the ground struggling to maneuver pass the heavy waters, is seen from the chopper as the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) team flies over to Maganja da Costa district, one of the areas hit by floods in the neighboring country, Mozambique. The country has been in desperate need of support from different humanitarian organizations including the SANDF, since the disaster struck over a week ago. The beautiful green land is almost completely covered by muddy water and scores of homes are destroyed. The mission in Mozambique is going well says the minister of Defence Nosiviwe Noluthando Mapisa-Nqakula, during a press conference at the Air Force base Waterkloof, ahead of the media visit to Mozambique on Tuesday. So far, more than 60 people have died country wide and thousands displaced in the Nicoadala district in Zambezia Province, located in the central coastal region, where the South African troops are based. “Rescue centres have been established to deal with food demand and those in need of medical attention and we are working very hard to prevent any outbreaks like cholera and malaria” said SANDF Lieutenant Colonel Edie Rieger who is part of the operation in the area. Some of the roads are still flooded, this might be a possibility for the team to pro-long their 14 day mission, until the roads dry up for the operation to continue. ...Photo and Words:Leon Sadiki 01-21-2015.
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BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) — After four days of destructive wind and rain, local communities and relief workers are now confronting the aftermath of Cyclone Freddy which has killed more than 250 people and displaced tens of thousands of others across Malawi and Mozambique and may still cause further damage.

Cyclone Freddy dissipated over land late Wednesday, but weather monitoring centers warned that countries are still vulnerable to flooding and landslides.

At least 225 people have been killed in southern Malawi, including within the financial capital of Blantyre, officials said. Around 88,000 people are still displaced and parts of the region remain inaccessible. Malawi’s president, Lazarus Chakwera, has declared a 14-day national mourning period. In Mozambique, authorities said at least 53 were killed since late Saturday, with 50,000 more still displaced.

Death tolls are expected to rise as authorities uncover the extent of the damage.

In Malawi, where a cholera outbreak was already ongoing when Cyclone Freddy ripped through the country, deaths from the disease and other water-borne illnesses are also expected to rise.

“We’ve been without running water for the past four days and water will become contaminated,” said Andrew Mavala, executive director of the Malawi Network for Older Persons. “This is a huge concern.”

Hundreds of people have been moved to camps but food and clean water is still scarce, Mavala said, with dozens of older people who don’t know how they’ll recover.

“There’s a feeling that they’ve lived their lives and we must prioritize the young. But they must be helped and treated with dignity,” he said.

Scientists say human-caused climate change has worsened cyclone activity, making them more intense and more frequent. The recently-ended La Nina that impacts weather worldwide also increased cyclone activity in the region in recent years.

Cyclone Freddy has caused destruction in southern Africa since late February, when it pummeled Mozambique as well as the islands of Madagascar and Réunion.

Freddy first developed near Australia in early February and traveled across the entire southern Indian Ocean before it bounced around the Mozambique Channel. The U.N.’s weather agency has convened an expert panel to determine whether it has broken the record for the longest-ever cyclone in recorded history, which was set by 31-day Hurricane John in 1994.