Humanitarians Respond as Scale of Cyclone Eloise’s Damage is Revealed
Beira – Residents of Beira and surrounding areas are reeling from the impact of Cyclone Eloise, navigating streets waist deep in flood waters littered with debris in some areas, as the scale of the damage becomes more apparent.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is working closely with the Government of Mozambique, the United Nations, and the humanitarian partners and clusters to ensure coordination in the response. The assessments began immediately following Cyclone Eloise’s arrival to determine the communities’ most pressing needs.
According to the National Institute for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction (INGD), more than 175,000 people have been affected by the cyclone in Mozambique, and over 8,000 houses have been destroyed, damaged, or flooded. Thus far, six people are confirmed dead since Eloise made landfall on Saturday.
Three days later, a total of 32 accommodation centres have been activated in Sofala province to provide temporary shelter for over 15,000 men, women and children.
According to an assessment by the IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) and Mozambique’s INGD, needs at these accommodation centres include food, tents, potable water, hygiene kits, COVID-19 prevention materials, mosquito nets, blankets, flashlights, tarps, health kits, and soap.
According to relief workers on the scene, individuals have received food and water from provincial authorities and the INGD.
“IOM is carrying out monitoring of accommodation centres in order to refer cases to health facilities, but unfortunately many health facilities are damaged due to the cyclone,” explained Angelica Sitoe, IOM Health Team Leader in Beira. “We are very concerned for chronic disease patients who lost their medication in the cyclone.”
Families are living in close quarters in accommodation centres. “Many reported having lost face masks. Many do not have adequate personal hygiene facilities, which creates concern for COVID-19 transmission. There are also many cases of malaria due to the rainy season,” IOM’s Sitoe added.
Schools, government facilities, and religious buildings are sheltering hundreds of displaced families, many of whom fled the storm with little more than the clothes on their backs. Many say they lost food supplies, farming tools and seeds, and that cropland is affected, which raises questions about food security.
Power outages continue across wide swathes of Beira and neighboring Buzi district.
IOM’s 160 staff in the area are working closely with the Government of Mozambique, United Nations- and other humanitarian partners to ensure a coordinated response. The assessments began the morning after the storm in order to determine the extent of displacement, damage and the needs of local communities.
DTM evaluations indicate that of the 70 resettlement centres where people displaced by Cyclone Idai in 2019 reside, located in areas affected by Cyclone Chalane, more than half have restricted access due to flooding.
IOM staff are distributing soap and a limited supply of cloth face masks to the most vulnerable in accommodation centres and providing further information about the need to maintain physical distancing, but say this is very difficult under the circumstances. Mobile teams are providing psychological first aid to affected population in accommodation centres and resettlement sites.
“Waist deep water entered our home around 1:00 am; the roof panels blew off in the strong wind. I picked up my son and, holding my wife’s hand, we went to a neighbor’s house for refuge,” explained Domingos Veloso, a local rice farmer and mason in Mungassa Inharimue, a district of Beira City. “We just wanted morning to come; at daybreak we moved to take shelter in the school. We are grateful to be alive. My wife and son are staying at an accommodation centre; I am staying here to protect our property.”
He added: “I tried but I was not able to recover anything; our belongings all went with the water flowing through the house. My farming tools and seeds are gone.”
Many resettlement sites report destruction and damage to homes and structures, including health clinics and school facilities. Others cite a lack of sufficient latrines.
IOM’s joint monitoring and assessment, as well as the initial response in accommodation centres in cooperation with local authorities, are ongoing.
For more information, please contact: Sandra Black at IOM Mozambique. Tel: +258 852 162 278. Email: Sblack@iom.int