Hundreds have died after cyclone Idai hit Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Malawi. Thousands are missing or displaced. International news outlets report that 1.5 million people are impacted in these three southern Africa countries.
There are reports that Beira, Mozambique has been hardest hit. Cyclone Idai destroyed 90% of this central port city. Much of the city is covered in water with some survivors clinging to trees and rooftops awaiting rescue. Beira is the home of the central office of the United Church of Christ in Mozambique, a historic Global Ministries partner. In addition to the United Church of Christ in Mozambique, Global Ministries relates to the Christian Council of Mozambique, Mozambique Synod of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa, and Ricatla United Seminary. Rev. Marco Cable, Area Executive for Africa, is still waiting on news and information from some partners in Mozambique due to the loss of electricity and instability related to the cyclone. Detailed information related to the cyclone’s impact on partners will be shared as available. However, the Africa office has received this report from the Christian Council of Mozambique:
“I can share with you is that Beira was destroyed by the cyclone. The city doesn't have electricity, water, communication, and roads were destroyed. More than 84 people died in the past 4 days. The cyclone was coming with almost 220k/h of wind. People lost all of their goods, including food. Now many are standing on trees, and more than 6,000 homes were destroyed. Today, we found 11 corpses in the river.
It is still raining in the Tete province. This province is affected by floods, as are most districts, including the capital city. The bridge is closed because the government is afraid that it may collapse. People are suffering as a result of no water, food, and shelter.
Zambezia province was affected by the cyclone specifically in the district called Chinde. More than 400 houses were destroyed. Floods are affecting many districts in that area.”
In Zimbabwe, Global Ministries relates to the United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe (UCCZ), the Zimbabwe Synod of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa, the United Theological College, Christian Care, and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches. The United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe shared that the roads leading to the main UCCZ mission centers in Chikore, Chinaa, Beaconhill, and Mount Selinda were impacted. Buildings and bridges in those areas were also damaged. No deaths are reported. Members of the UCCZ are experiencing no electricity and limited means of communication
The UCCZ is offering relief services. They are collecting clothes, blankets, medicine, drinking water, and tents for temporary shelter. Here is the full report from the UCCZ:
"Indeed everyone is still in a state of panic and confusion arising from the devastation of Cyclone Idai that ravaged our communities in Chimanimani and Chipinge. We keep asking God why, given that God's word says God will not destroy God's people with water again. The church is frantically trying to rescue or recover bodies of members who are
- marooned on islands with no food, clothes, and shelter,
- trapped between boulders from land slides, in thick mud, and under collapsed buildings; and
- others buried under water, under mud.
I am sure you have seen the photos, videos, and messages going around. The grief and pain is unbearable mainly because we have never witnessed destruction of this extent and scope where
- whole villages of more than 100 inhabitants are buried – families just swallowed and vanished in one moment.
- Bridges are destroyed, rendering various places unreachable except by helicopter. Only four days later did the military manage to reach the village that vanished, and I suppose it was only to help recover bodies and assess the extent of the damage.
- Houses, school buildings, as well as electricity and telephone infrastructure are damaged. Mortuaries, schools, and hospitals have been going for days without power and with no means of communication when phones run out of battery.
We thank God that the UCCZ Infrastructure at the main mission centers of Chikore, Chinaa, Beaconhill, and Mount Selinda, though affected were not devastated and no loss of life has been recorded as yet. The President is going to give an official state of affairs regarding
- damaged buildings, bridges, and road infrastructure to our Mission Stations and damaged church buildings country-wide
- impact of prolonged periods of no electricity
- Effects of having no means of communication
The Church is now shifting from rescue operations to offering relief services. We are collecting anything that could help the victims and give them some form of comfort - clothes, blankets, medicine, clean drinking water, tents for temporal shelter, etc. We trust God for the strength to overcome so that we can provide counselling to the bereaved and the affected going forward. We will sure do with your prayers."
The Zimbabwe Council of Churches has also provided us with this report:
RESPONSE TO THE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS CAUSED BY TROPICAL CYCLONE IDAI IN MANICALAND
Tropical cyclone Idai, which made landfall in Mozambique on Thursday evening has moved further inland to the eastern province of Manicaland, leaving a trail of disaster. The hardest hit areas are Chipinge, Chimanimani, and surrounding areas. We established communication with the local Zimbabwe council of Churches leadership and this is the information we have gathered.
- The town of Chimanimani has been devastated with incessant rainfall, flooding all the streams and rivers. Also mudslides continue, triggering huge boulders to roll down the mountains, destroying homes and blocking roads.
- All the bridges connecting the town have been washed away, leaving the people isolated. Electricity lines were uprooted, and were telephone lines so there is no power in the town.
- Due to the rains, there have been mudslides and huge boulders have flattened whole communities, leaving a trail of infrastructural destruction and loss of human life. According to the official Ministry of Information statistics, 24 people have been confirmed dead and almost a hundred have not been accounted for.
- The Salvation Army church in Chimanimani has been completely destroyed and the minister is currently housed at the United Methodist Church. More are housed at the Roman Catholic Church, but we have no details of the numbers.
- There are 6 injured people at the United Methodist Church in Chimanimani being cared for by Revd Chitiyo. They are badly injured and most have head injuries. There are also 6 corpses being kept at the church.
- There is no access to the hospital as the road is flooded and impassable. The mortuary at the local hospital is also not working.
- Revd Femai is with the community at Ngangu, Chimanimani, and they are being housed at the local Catholic church and primary school. Many who were rescued from the flooding are in a bad condition and require immediate medical attention. Food assistance and blankets are needed as well.
- Revd Ziomo is with a community at Biriri Mission in Chimanimani where the people require food and medical assistance. Clothes and blankets are also required.
Having communicated with our church leaders on the ground, the following is what our emergency response should attend to:
- To provide shelter for those who lost their homes, (tents, clothing, blankets)
- Assist with a clean water supply
- Food supplies as most have lost everything
- Medical assistance for the injured
- Psycho-social support
- Protective Clothing for the rescue volunteers
Gifts may be sent for Global Ministries partners in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, or to Week of Compassion (Disciples) or One Great Hour of Sharing (UCC).
UPDATE March 22, 2019
Global Ministries continues to communicate with church partners in Mozambique and Zimbabwe. There are yet partners unaccounted for. The Global Ministries Africa Office is working with Week of Compassion (Disciples) and with UCC Disaster Ministries to secure emergency funding for partners’ emergency relief work.
Global Ministries received news from the Christian Council of Mozambique (CCM) Program Office (March 19, 2019).
According to CCM, Beira, the city where the central office of the United Church of Christ in Mozambique (UCCM), was destroyed by tropical cyclone Idai with winds up to 137 miles per hour. The city lost electricity and access to clean water. Communication lines are down and roads are unpassable. In Beira alone, at least 84 have died in the storms. People in the city have lost nearly all of their possessions including food, and more than 6,000 homes have been destroyed.
The rain continues in the Tete province of Mozambique, which is trying to manage the rising floodwaters. The government has closed the bridge into and out of this province, out of fear that the bridge will collapse. However, many in Tete are without water, food, and shelter. In the Chinde district of the Zambezia province, more than 400 houses were destroyed and continue to be affected by flooding. These are two provinces where both Global Ministries partners in Mozambique, the CCM and the UCCM are present.
The Christian Council of Mozambique is creating plans for providing assistance to those affected by tropical cyclone Idai.
From a member and church administrator of the United Church of Christ in Mozambique (March 21, 2019):
The church building where the UCCM offices are located in Beira was destroyed partially, classrooms were destroyed partially, the roof was taken off, and offices were damaged. There are UCCM members who are displaced.
In other locations, there is total destruction of UCCM church buildings. There is no news yet from the pastors, evangelists, and church members in Buzi. Communications are still very bad, people still are still marooned in trees and on roofs since Friday of last week, hungry and thirsty with no rescue yet. For those who managed to be rescued, there is no food or even a place to sleep, because they are so many institutions with no capacity to host and care for them all. Those in their homes have no roofs and no food. The few shops that managed to have something to sell have raised prices, and generally there is no availability of basic items.
1-that people in trees and on roofs are rescued as soon as possible, especially the old, children, and the pregnant
2-That more helicopters are available to assist with rescue and relief
3-That food and water may be made available
3-That medication may be available because the hospitals have no medication
4-That electricity is established so that mortuaries can function
5-For more doctors to help save people
6-For consolation of those who lost their loved ones
7-For courage and goodwill to continue with life, as many are depressed
8-For the mayor, the authorities, and rescue teams
In Beira, the weather is improving. Waters are getting lower and lower, but food, clean water, medication and other needs continue as major challenges.
The Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) shares the following details and action plans:
Cyclone Idai in Zimbabwe was characterized by heavy rains and winds and widespread destruction of infrastructure; resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people, and destroyed livelihoods of inhabitants of Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland East Province of Zimbabwe.
Official reports are saying over 100 people are reported dead and the exact number of the missing people is not known according to Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) television. Over 20,000 houses have been partially destroyed and over 200 families have been left homeless in Chipinge, Bikita, Chimanimani and Masvingo, and Mutare districts. According to the Chairperson of the Ministerial Taskforce on the disaster, Honorable July Moyo, some bodies are being found flowing in the Mozambican rivers. Most of the bridges in Chimanimani have been wiped away. Schools, roads, people’s livelihoods and homes have been destroyed and churches are being used as storehouses for safe-keeping of corpses. The survivors of the disaster who have been moved to higher ground have nothing to eat, put on and they do not have shelter. There is need to provide safe drinking water, food, tents, blankets, clothing, health care, buckets, first aid kits, and sanitary supplies for women. There also is need for the church to play a major role in giving post trauma counselling services to the survivors of the tragedy, supporting and giving a message of hope, burial services, pastoral care, and support.
The Zimbabwe Council of Churches’ response is concentrating on facilitating church response in Chimanimani, Bikita and Chipinge through the work of its Local Ecumenical Fellowships (LEFs) and pastors of the member churches. Coordination centers are being set up by the LEFs, and over 20,000 people who have been affected directly by cyclone Idai will be served through provision of food relief, clothing, temporary shelter. Local, trained ZCC pastors will provide psycho-social support and pastoral care. These emergency efforts will be incorporated into existing ZCC long-term disaster response mechanisms, including distribution of emergency relief materials to families, and disaster risk assessment for future disaster vulnerabilities.
UPDATE March 26, 2019
News from United Church of Christ in Mozambique
After more than a week of no communication from the United Church of Christ in Mozambique (UCCM), the Global Ministries Africa Office was able to connect with the Head of the church, Reverend Dr. Lucas Amosse.
Most of the UCCM’s properties are destroyed by the cyclone, and remaining structures were damaged severely and standing without roofs. In Beira and surrounding areas, the major concerns right now are related to lack of access to food, potable water, clothes, and medication. Many people have lost their homes and are searching for temporary housing. The area still cannot access electricity.
Dr. Amosse and UCCM church leaders are making pastoral calls to church communities. They are also mobilizing support for their churches and the surrounding communities.
According to Christian Council in Mozambique program office, the President of Mozambique announced the following data almost two weeks after the cyclone hit:
-6,576 individuals in vulnerable areas
-431,776 individuals in affected areas
-109,733 evacuees are being housed in shelter centers across four provinces: Manica, Sofala, Tete and Zambezia
There is still a huge number of people seeking refuge from the flooded areas withsin the four provinces. The rain continues throughout the area, especially in the city of Beira. Some roads have been reopened, including road number 6, connecting Inchope to Beira. With this road opening, it is now possible for cars to take aid to shelters and centers for evacuees. Communication and drinking water have already been reestablished in many areas, but the city of Beira is lacking electricity at this moment.
Prayer requests from Zimbabwe Council of Churches
In the light of cyclone Idai, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches is requesting prayers for the following:
- To recover the remaining bodies and give everyone a dignified burial
- To begin an alternative education program for children whose schools have been destroyed
- To prevent the outbreak of diseases from contaminated water
- To provide meals for those who have lost livelihoods and will need food assistance until the next farming season
- To help families rebuild new homes
- To unite the nation of Zimbabwe in finding a lasting solution
United Congregational Church of Southern Africa - Mozambique Synod
Global Ministries Africa office has been in contact with the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) - Mozambique Synod. They are located in an area of the country, which was not affected by cyclone Idai. However, they are providing assistance for those in affected communities. Currently, the UCCSA - Mozambique is seeking funds to provide food, general household items - such as blankets, soap, buckets, pots, gas for cooking, housing - including tents and plastic coverings, and medical supplies - such as bandages, gauze, antibiotics, malaria treatment, and more.
UPDATE April 2, 2019
United Church of Christ in Mozambique
On Thursday, March 14 at 5:00 p.m. a strong storm came upon Beira, Mozambique. What started began as a few trees falling down and strong winds shaking houses, it became clear everyone in the city should stay inside. Between 11:00 p.m. until 1 a.m. on the same night, the storm developed into a cyclone, resulting in massive flooding across the city and pieces of roofs and buildings thrown across the city.
The next morning, Friday, March 15, Beira was no longer recognizable. Trees, branches, and debris blocked most of the roads. The rain continued, leaving many areas still flooded, and there was no longer any access to communication channels, electricity, and running water.
Cyclone Idai has left a tremendous impact on the United Church of Christ in Mozambique and their local churches. Almost all UCCM churches have suffered damages to their buildings including missing roofs, doors, and windows. Churches in Dondo, Mafambisse, Tica, Guara-guara, Inharongue, Sofala, and Tungo were destroyed. Only one church remained standing after the passing of cyclone Idai, the church in Massange. In addition to church buildings, most homes of pastors and administrators were demolished, leaving pastors seeking temporary shelter.
At this time, UCCM leaders and pastors are visiting church members and all families in the community to provide pastoral care and to identify ways the church can support the long-term recovery of Beira. Everyone visited by church leaders is seeking food aid, construction materials for shelter, and school materials for their children.
In addition to providing pastoral care, the UCCM is providing relief in the community through
- Gathering and training volunteers on rescuing injured people and bodies in the community and clearing the trees and branches from roads.
- Providing education on the prevention of malaria and sickness caused by the increase of mosquitos and stagnated water.
- Distributing mosquito nets, with a priority given to pregnant women and children.
Depending on funding available, the UCCM is seeking to
- Provide food aid until people are resettled or able to return to their homes.
- Purchase and distribute books, pens, erasers, pencils for 1,000 school-aged children who are not in school because of the cyclone.
- Reconstruct houses of people who have lost homes and churches that were demolished.
UPDATE April 9, 2019
Zimbabwe Council of Churches visits Mt. Selinda
The Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) visited Mt. Selinda to support the affected communities in the area and to assess the extent of damage caused by Cyclone Idai.
One of the most affected structures in Mt. Selinda was the Church of the United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe (UCCZ), another Global Ministries partner in Zimbabwe. This is one of the oldest buildings within the area, and now has visible cracks in the walls. Also, some of the roof tiles were peeled off by the relentless winds that accompanied the floods. The general landscape surrounding the congregation remained remarkably untouched for the most part. Several of the trees did fall down however. Reverend Mashava, a chaplain of the UCCZ hosted the ZCC team visiting Mt. Selinda.
Daisy Dube Children’s Home
The ZCC team also visited the leadership and children at the Daisy Dube Children’s Home in Mt. Selinda. The home is close to the UCCZ hospital in Mt. Selinda, therefore the ZCC also met with leadership of the hospital. Reveverend Mashava, UCCZ chaplain, Mr. Madzaridzari, UCCZ Hospital Administrator, and Mai Majaheni, a care provider at Daisy Dube welcomed the ZCC team during this visit. During this visit, the ZCC assessed the damages caused by cyclone Idai and they distributed food and clothes for children at Daisy Dube Children’s Home.
Global Ministries will share the plans and continued updates from partners in Mozambique and Zimbabwe as they are available. Gifts may be sent for Global Ministries partners in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, or to Week of Compassion (Disciples) or One Great Hour of Sharing (UCC).