A second huge cyclone – Cyclone Kenneth – has slammed into Mozambique. This comes just six weeks after Cyclone Idai killed hundreds of people and damaged 35,000 homes.
Cyclone Kenneth also caused devastation on the island nation of Comoros and the neighbouring country of Tanzania.
Never, since records began, have two such enormous cyclones struck Mozambique in the same year. It is unusual even for one storm of this size to hit the country.
And a cyclone has never been known to hit Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado, where Cyclone Kenneth landed.
Yet Cyclone Kenneth was a huge category 4 storm, with winds of 140 miles per hour and 8-metre waves. This is taller than the average two-story house.
“Rains from the storm have already caused flooding of over 2 metres (6.5 feet) in Pemba, the regional capital of Cabo,” said Luke Tredget, British Red Cross disaster management coordinator for southern Africa.
“To put this in perspective, average rainfall in a whole year in the UK is 885 millimetres (33.7 inches).”
Terrible floods are already stranding people on high ground and this will probably get worse.
Around 23,800 people have fled their homes and are staying in accommodation centres supported by the Red Cross.
Luke added that, “In one district, nine out of ten houses have been damaged.
“Around three-quarters of a million people could be affected. That’s more people than live in Newcastle, Swansea and Portsmouth, combined.”
Already one of the world’s poorest countries, Mozambique is struggling to cope.
Cyclone Kenneth knocks out roads and communications – and it’s still raining
After Cyclone Idai devastated southern Mozambique last month, Mozambique Red Cross volunteers were out warning people before Cyclone Kenneth struck.
Over 100 volunteers warned people to expect floods, soil erosion and landslides brought on by the cyclone. They also helped thousands of people get to evacuation centres.
Even now, a few days after the worst of the cyclone, many roads are waterlogged. Some areas are completely cut off as the rain continues to fall.
In Comoros, a group of islands off Mozambique, volunteers from the Comoros Red Crescent are providing search and rescue services and urgent first aid.
They could act quickly because they live in the affected communities and had prepared in advance in case of disaster.
Supporting people who fled their homes
In Mozambique’s most affected city, Pemba, 1,000 children are staying in special accommodation centres after fleeing their damaged homes.
Drone footage from the United Nations shows that rural communities are stranded and in desperate need of assistance.
Red Cross volunteers are reporting that homes and crops have been destroyed.
“Red Cross teams on the ground say that people are wading through waist high water,” Luke said.
“Many have arrived in accommodation centres with almost nothing, some have lost everything in their homes and food from their farms.
“Pemba has seen some relief in terms of the water levels, but we are still fearful of other areas forecast for further flooding.”
Tanzania: helping people recover after the cyclone
In Tanzania, a country over Mozambique’s northern border, the Red Cross will support 12,500 people in emergency shelters.
And since floods can contaminate drinking water, we will support people to get clean water and hygienic toilets for three months.
We’ll also help people to stay safe from diseases spread by dirty water through health education and first aid.
After Cyclone Kenneth, we need your support
Since Cyclone Idai hit the southern part of Mozambique, there have been over 6,000 cases of the waterborne disease cholera.
At least 14 new cases of cholera have already been confirmed in Cabo Delgado province. With cholera, every minute counts – it is vital that we respond rapidly to get ahead of its spread.
And, like in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, we will have to wait for the flood waters to recede to fully understand the scale of the devastation in northern Mozambique. We expect to find that thousands of people will be facing damaged homes, destroyed crops and a lack of clean water.
“The British Red Cross is ready to send humanitarian aid and specialist aid workers to Mozambique,” Luke said.
“As always, we are moved by the kindness of the people in the UK. Thousands have been giving generously to the British Red Cross cyclone appeal to help families on the other side of the world.
“Together, we can make a difference to people in Mozambique, Comoros and Tanzania facing the worst.”