The Church in Mozambique is scrambling to try to help hundreds of thousands of people in the district of Beira who have been left stranded by unprecedented floods.
The flooding was caused by Cyclone Idai, which hit Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Strong winds tore down roofs and even entire houses, with rising waters causing massive destruction. Hundreds of people have been confirmed dead, but the death toll is expected to rise to the thousands.
The Diocese of Beira has formed an emergency commission to try to deal with the crisis and coordinate relief efforts, as several countries and organisations rush to offer help. Local bishop Cláudio Dalla Zuanna described a dire situation. “Houses, schools, hospitals and churches lost their roofs and in some cases walls collapsed,” he said. “Several trees fell on buildings, roads and vehicles, making transport difficult.
The electrical and telephone networks were damaged and have not yet been restored. There is no potable water and food is running out, since a good deal of the supplies we had were destroyed by the rain, or due to lack of electricity.”
Archbishop Francisco Chimoio of Maputo, a native of Buzi, one of the towns most strongly hit by the floods, spoke of his anguish at not being able to reach out to family and friends and thanked international organisations for their help. “Caritas has been rallying help, and the answers have been positive. Other countries have also offered aid, such as Portugal, England and France. There has been a lot of solidarity, and it is consoling to know that others are sharing in our suffering,” he said.
Mozambique is a former Portuguese colony, and the Portuguese branches of Caritas and the Red Cross quickly organised help, dipping into emergency funds. But concern remained that Zimbabwe would have to open the floodgates of its dams, which are full to the brim, causing waters in downriver Mozambique to rise even more rapidly.
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