Reverend Sandra Gourdet translated the following information from the CDCC

The night of Saturday, 7 February, to Sunday, 8 February 2009, was a nightmare for the population of Mbandaka.  In fact, a tropical windstorm swept across the city causing tremendous damage.  This phenomenon lasted from 2 AM to about 4 AM followed by a hail storm that lasted until about 7 AM in the morning.

Walking about the worst is visible, for the whirlwind came from north of the city, on the other side of the river and swept through the business area of town and then the residential areas, attacking Mabandaka, Basoko,  Ikongowasa, and ending in the Air Congo neighborhood.  Everywhere the storm passed, people woke up with their roofs blown away, trees uprooted, streets and avenues filled with rubbish of every sort.  There were even streets blocked because of fallen trees.

The result was at least 500 homes damaged and three reported deaths, two  men and a woman were crushed by a wall.  The part of town most affected was the business district where the damage was not only considerable, but with heavy consequences.  Many of the warehouses and stores in town are now without a roof, which means that the perishable stock is now spoiled by the rain.

Many houses were also affected, which the population, already poor and earning very little, will not be able to repair.  Among the victims is the Moderator of the CDCC, Mr. Maingowa Balemba, who saw his roof blown away.   Fortunately, other than the three victims no other loss of life has been reported.  (Since the writing of this update, it has been reported that the death toll has risen to seven).

Many buildings of common interest have also been affected :  chapels, churches, three Catholic schools for girls, the Liziba Primary School where the late Mobutu studied, the Belgium school run by our Disciples’ sister, Ada Ntombi , and government buildings. 

The Community of Disciples of Christ was not spared from this catastrophe.  In fact, the old General Secretariat building was damaged.  The CDCC chapel at Air Congo lost a part of its roof and the faithful came to pray in the open air.  The CDCC Bokombodji Primary School was also affected:  damage, lost – brief, misery for people who are already unfortunate.

Approximately, one year ago another disaster of this sort left the city stunned.  It was followed by a torrential rain that carried away entire houses leaving their occupants without shelter. Now, it is necessary to repair the damage again.  More importantly, one fears that the shortage of goods caused by the loss of perishable items will push prices to the ceiling or cause speculation that will impoverish the population of Mbandaka and surrounding areas even further.

If you have received this newsflash from the Disciples News Journal (BID), please pray for the population of Mbandaka.