The rainy season in Malawi had been good throughout the growing season. The crops had been growing well, although the cost of fertiliser meant that yields were likely to be below par.
All this changed on Sunday 12th March. Record-breaking Cyclone Freddy was one of only four cyclones that originated off the Australian coast and travelled across the Indian Ocean to the African continent. It has been the longest active cyclone in history and the only one that has recycled itself to hit Africa twice. On Sunday 12th March the BBC forecasted that up to 500mm of rain might fall.
Whilst cyclones usually peter out before reaching the Shire highlands, this time the storm reached Blantyre. Some of its urban townships were hit by torrential rain followed by flash flooding and mudslides. This is the latest update from the Government of Malawi:
“As of 22nd March, the Government of Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) report that as a result of Tropical Cyclone Freddy, to date in Malawi:
- 511 people have lost their lives.
- Around 563,600 people (over 126,215 households) have been displaced.
- 533 people are missing.
- 1,066 are injured.
Public infrastructure including schools, health facilities, and district and main roads have been damaged in all affected districts. The most critical needs are:
- The ongoing search and rescue operation for those trapped by flood waters and killed by mudslides.
- Providing food and vital items to the thousands of people who have lost their homes and belongings and are now sheltering in over 500 camps”.
The fatalities include 10 members of one family from Chilobwe Zambezi Evangelical Church in Blantyre, who were tragically swept away when torrential flash flooding engulfed the house that they were sleeping in. Please pray for all the families who have been affected and for those who have lost loved ones. Please will you also pray for those whose family members are still missing.
Many people are in temporary camps or sheltering in the ruins of their homes – please remember them as well in your prayers. We are passing on all gifts received for disaster relief to help our church partners who have been so badly affected and helping in whatever way we can. Please ask the Lord to grant our staff strength and resilience as they help as far as they are able. If you would like to donate towards the mission’s relief efforts you can give via our website. In the video below our Projects Officer Rose Chirwa and Administrator Mercy Carlos explain more.