Storm has triggered floods, landslides and building collapses in southern Africa
by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — The Presbyterian Mission Agency is reaching out to its partners in southern Africa, where powerful Cyclone Freddy has struck multiple times, leaving hundreds of people dead.
Assistance includes a solidarity grant from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to help provide humanitarian aid to those affected by Freddy, which holds the record for most accumulated cyclone energy of any storm in the southern hemisphere and possibly worldwide, according to Reuters.
The storm has killed more than 400 people in Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar since it first made landfall in Africa in late February and then hit the region again last weekend, Reuters noted. It also has triggered flooding and landslides and flattened homes.
PDA is working with partners including Churches Action in Relief and Development (CARD) in Malawi, which will receive a solidarity grant, to help those in need. PDA is also exploring avenues of support in Madagascar and Mozambique through direct church partners and ACT Alliance.
“Thousands of houses have been destroyed,” and numerous “acres of crop fields washed away,” said Melton Luhanga, CARD’s executive director, in correspondence with PDA. “The death toll is likely to increase as the search and rescue continue.”
According to the World Meterological Organization, Freddy first made landfall in Madagascar on Feb. 21 and in Southern Mozambique on Feb. 24, and it may be the longest-lasting tropical cyclone on record, having formed more than a month ago on Feb. 6. “It spent several days tracking over Mozambique and Zimbabwe, bringing heavy rains and flooding,” the organization notes. “It then looped back towards the Mozambique Channel and picked up energy from the warm waters and moved towards the southwestern coast of Madagascar and then back towards Mozambique.”
Earlier this week, Dr. Fletcher Padoko, executive director of Kasupe Ministries in Malawi, said, “The floods have calmed down and the cyclone has returned to the ocean, at least that is the official version, but the devastation is huge, even for us who were not on the direct path of the cyclone.”
Padoko’s account was shared with the Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP), which is one of its partners, along with PDA.
“I am afraid my community where Kasupe Ministries works (in Balaka District) has been adversely affected, and the full extent of the cyclone is still unfolding,” he said. “We lost five people from our villages, mainly due to collapsing houses, and yesterday, I attended a mass funeral in Blantyre. Nationally, about 300 people are confirmed dead and we haven’t even reached other remote and hard-to-reach locations, meaning the numbers could go up. Just yesterday, 15 people down south were washed away after being in a tree for over 72 hours.”
In an alert focused on Malawi and Mozambique, ACT Alliance noted that the cyclone knocked out critical roads, electricity and communication in the most affected areas and that floods and increasing water levels from rain have led many people to be displaced. Some are staying in schools and churches while others are being hosted by families, according to ACT Alliance, which is a global faith-based coalition with about 140 members, including PDA.
PDA is appealing to the Church and public to pray for those affected by Freddy and to make contributions. It is working in collaboration with Presbyterian World Mission and Rev. Dr. Mwawi Chilongozi, the Secretary General of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP).
“Moments like this remind us of how important and crucial the One Great Hour of Sharing offering is in responding to the immediate needs of communities affected by disasters,” said the Rev. Edwin González-Castillo, PDA’s director. “Through this offering, we’re able to quickly provide grants, both national and international, that help partners and mid councils respond to emergency needs in their communities.”
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and the Presbyterian Hunger Program are part of the Compassion, Peace and Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Their work is made possible through gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing.
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Categories: Disaster Response, Hunger & Poverty, Special Offerings
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Ministries: Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Special Offerings