Floods worsening in Mozambique
and other parts of Southern Africa

By Philip Wijmans, Director of ACT-LutheranWorld Federation (LWF) in Mozambique

Special to USAfricaonline.com and USAfrica The Newspaper

February 29, 2000: "This morning we got reports of the worseningsituation of the flooding in Mozambique. In Gaza Province, Chokwe iscompletely flooded. People have left the town if they could.

Our project coordinator left with 5 staff families Sunday morning01.00 hours and managed to get to Macia on the main road. The bigwave in the Limpopo came an hour later. He was trying to get back tosee about other staff but there is no fuel. Macia is isolated in alldirections as well, but not flooded.

We are very worried about this and we are going to have ahelicopter flight this afternoon to Xai Xai, Chokwe, Sabie and backto Maputo. We cannot access the situation properly as waters are toohigh and still rising. The weather forecast talks about more rain. InSofala our project coordinator reports on his visit to the projectsite. He could just reach the project office at Muxungwe, the road isblocked from there on, and so many trucks are parked there. Thecyclone Eline really did a lot of damage. Many trees have beenuprooted and block the roads; all crops have been lost, many houseshave lost their roofs; many cashew trees are down; many schools havelost their roofs.

It was not possible to enter the project areas, but observationswere made from the main road, from Beira up to Muxungwe, and peoplethat managed to get out of the affected areas make reports.

Saturday we took a ride to see how far north we could get fromMaputo. We managed to get 20 km beyond Palmeira (or 120 km fromMaputo), where the road is severely cut. Slow repair was going on,but the water draining Zimbabwe and South Africa will reach the sameagain, and surely damage all that was fixed."

While waiting for possible access in Gaza and Sofala, ACT-LWF iscontinuing the crisis response to flood victims closer to Maputo.This primarily consists of food and shelter assistance to familieswho have either lost their homes or had to temporarily relocate.SouthAfrica Director Enos Moyo of the Evangelical Lutheran Church inSouthern Africa (Province ACT-ELCSA) send the following report onMonday:

"Cyclone Eline is ravaging the Northern Province and there seemsto be no respite in sight with climatologists predicting more rainsand other cyclones such as Gloria and Felicia hitting the province.The Province was just beginning to recover from the devastatingtorrential rains in which several people had died and roads andbridges washed away, when it was hit by cyclone Eline on Thursday 24February 2000. Between 100mm and 400mm of rain was received in lessthan 12 hours in most areas of the Northern Province.

Due to the heavy downpours, the Great Letaba, Limpopo and SandRivers burst their banks and helicopters from both the South AfricanAir Force and the South African Police Services were kept busyrescuing stranded people. At the Letaba Lodge, which is on the banksof the Letaba River it is reported that guests tried to form a humanchain to cross the flooded plain but some were swept away and werefound, clinging to bushes and trees. Forty-four people marooned bythe floods had been rescued to safety and twelve people dead in theNorthern Province alone by morning of Friday 25 February 2000.

The worst affected areas are in the former homelands of Venda andGazankulu. * Twelve people have died in the Northern Province alone *Several people including an eight-year-old girl, who was left with acrushed pelvic area and a damaged bladder when her family housecollapsed, were injured. * Hospitals such the Siloam Hospital aremarooned. * Families are forced to keep corpses in their houses forseveral days because the torrential rains have cut them off frommortuaries and hospitals * The dead have not been buried for severaldays because of the sodden grounds and relatives failing to travelfor burials * Several bridges and roads have been washed away andmany are threatening to collapse. For example, the border post atBeit Bridge which links South Africa and Zimbabwe had to be closed onFriday because of the swelling waters of the Limpopo River and thecollapsed bridge two kilometres before the border post on the SouthAfrican side. * The main road linking Thohoyandou to N1 via Dzananihas been closed by mudslides * About a thousand houses and huts havebeen destroyed. Details are still being compiled.

Response to the Disaster A day after the first downpour caused byCyclone Eline in the Northern Province ACT-ELCSA distributed food to56 families and materials for shelter to 21 families. Washed awayroads and bridges currently hamper further distribution. The soddengrounds are making it difficult for tent pitching. Instead of tents,ACT-ELCSA is distributing materials for the construction of temporaryshelters in the form of corrugated iron sheets and gum poles. Thebeneficiaries will later use the materials for the construction ofnew houses. ACT-ELCSA is also distributing second hand clothing tomost needy.

Zimbabwe "The most badly affected provinces are Manicaland in theEast, Masvingo in South-East and Matabeleland in the South," writesMaia Hakulinen, Director of ACT-LWF in Zimbabwe. Her report (filedFebruary 28) goes on: "Out of those areas ACT-LWF is operational inBeitbridge district in Matabeleland South and in Mwenezi district inMasvingo.

The Air Force are rescuing people by helicopters from the islandswhere they have escaped. Four people have been reported to be killed,three drowned and one hit by a fallen electricity line. Telephonelines have been cut off, thus the communication is difficult. Severalbridges were flooded during the Eline. I understand that the brigdebetween Masvingo and Beitbridge has been damaged. In Beitbridge theamount of affected people is about 22000. More huts are reportedstill to be falling.

The crops in the affected areas have been destroyed. That meanslonger term need for food aid and seeds, until the new crop ripens ina year'stime. The goverment has decided to take grain from thestrategic grain store, to feed the affected people."

In response to the current floods and cyclone destruction inSouthern Africa, ACT International has: · Issued an Appeal forUS$ 1,1 million for flood relief in Mozambique. · Issued anappeal for US $ 456,091 for flodd relief in South Africa - thisappeal will soon be revised upwards to approx. US$ 790,000. ·Issued Rapid Response Payments of approx. US$ 50,000 for crisisassistance through ACT members in Mozambique, South Africa andZimbabwe.

For further information please contact: Nils Carstensen (mobile ++41 79 358 3171). ACT Web Site address: http://www.act-intl.org.ACT is a worldwide network of churches and related agenciesmeeting human need through coordinated emergency response. The ACTCoordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC)and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.


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