Above: Residents stand on rooftops in a flooded area of Buzi (population 200,000), in central Mozambique, on March 20, 2019, after the passage of cyclone Idai. Image credit: ADRIEN BARBIER/AFP/Getty Images.
Resources stretched as Cyclone Kenneth piles misery on Mozambique
The United Nations has said it will grant Mozambique $13 million in emergency funds to help cope with the massive flooding and destruction caused by Cyclone Kenneth, the second tropical storm to hit the country within weeks.
Cyclone Kenneth crashed into the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado on Thursday just as the country was recovering from Cyclone Idai that hit further south last month.
Weather experts are warning that Kenneth could dump twice as much rain on northern Mozambique as Idai did. It has already killed five people as it unleashed heavy rains and flooding that has seen rivers burst their banks and smash whole villages.
An estimated 160,000 people are at risk, with more torrential rain forecast in the coming days, officials have warned.
On Sunday, the UN said it would grant $13 million in emergency funds to help provide food and water and repair damage to infrastructure.
“This new allocation of Central Emergency Response Fund funds will help humanitarian partners to scale up the response to address the needs of those most vulnerable in the aftermath of Cyclone Kenneth”, said UN Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock in a statement.
Earlier in April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) granted the southern African nation a $118.2 million credit facility, with the World Bank estimating that Mozambique and other countries affected by the tropical storm will need over $2 billion to recover.
Mozambique officials have described flooding from the new cyclone as “critical” in parts of Cabo Delgado province such as the towns of Ibo, Macomia and Quissanga, where many buildings and homes have been destroyed.
As soon as the rains lift aid distribution will begin Monday via helicopter and boats in Ibo and Quissanga, said officials, noting that roads have been rendered impassable by the heavy rains. Canoes may be used to deliver aid in Macomia, they added.
Safe drinking water is also becoming a challenge as wells have been contaminated, raising the threat of cholera. Malaria is another concern.
The prolonged heavy rains in Pemba, the provincial capital and an historic port city, caused deadly mudslides. As the rains eased Monday, residents of a poor neighbourhood were digging for bodies.
Two houses were crushed by the collapse of a sprawling dumpsite that hit just after midnight when rains poured, local resident Manuel Joachim told the Associated Press.
“We have pulled out one body only, maybe we can find the other five,” he added.
In other parts of Pemba, some tried to return to a semblance of daily life amid the destruction.
At a school in one suburb, school children in blue uniforms trooped into classes. In central Pemba, traders put their wares on street pavements and wooden tables while others were busy removing rubble from their homes and yards.
Kenneth wipes out villages’Help us, we are losing everything”Help us, we are losing everything’
Pemba, Mozambique: A second disaster unfolded on Sunday in northern Mozambique in the wake of Cyclone Kenneth as raging flood waters killed one person and began to cut off the region’s main city from the outside world. Some 160,000 people were at risk, with more torrential rain forecast for the days ahead.
A woman tries to create a drainage system outside her shop in Pemba, Mozambique on Sunday.
“Help us, we are losing everything!” residents in Pemba city shouted at passing cars as the rushing waters poured into doorways. Women and girls with buckets and pots tried to scoop away the torrent, in vain. Some houses collapsed, the United Nations said.
“It’s an awful sense of deja vu,” said Nicholas Finney, response team leader with the aid group Save the Children. Kenneth arrived just six weeks after Cyclone Idai ripped into central Mozambique and killed more than 600 people with flooding.
This was the first time in recorded history that the southern African nation has been hit by two cyclones in one season, again raising concerns about climate change.
The new storm’s remnants could dump twice as much rain as Idai, the UN World Program has said. Up to 100 millimetres were forecast in the next 24 hours for some parts of the region, according to Mozambique’s meteorological institute.
People leave their flooded homes in the Natite neighbourhood of Pemba, on the north-eastern coast of Mozambique.
Residents mourned one death in the Nitate neighbourhood after a brick wall fell on a woman and the waters swept her against another building, said community leader Estenacio Pilale.
Other residents tried to pile up tires and sand-filled sacks as barricades. Cars began to slip under the waters.
“We will keep moving until we get somewhere safe,” one man said, as people fled carrying belongings in plastic bags. Others showed flashes of impatience. “Will this water ever give us a break?” Abdul Carimo asked. “The moment we try to do anything with our lives, it starts again.”
Authorities earlier said at least five people died after Kenneth roared in Thursday evening with the force of a Category 4 hurricane, stunning residents of a region where such a storm had not been recorded in the modern era.
The government said more than 160,000 people have been affected in the largely rural region, many now exposed and hungry. More than 35,000 homes in parts of Mozambique’s northernmost Cabo Delgado were partially or fully destroyed by the storm. More than 23,000 people were in shelters, the government said.
Aid workers trying to reach hard-hit communities outside Pemba on Sunday were forced to turn back by rivers that burst their banks, with flood waters reaching the roofs of nearby houses. It was not clear when aid to scores of thousands of people outside the city could be delivered.
“Helicopters cannot fly, a number of flights were cancelled, so humanitarian workers cannot arrive and additional cargo cannot arrive by air,” Save the Children’s Finney said. He was concerned that the main road to Nampula, an important trucking route, would soon be blocked.
He described “total devastation” affecting a 60-kilometre stretch of coastline and nearby islands.
On Saturday, aerial photos showed several coastal communities flattened by the cyclone. “Not a single house is standing anymore,” Saviano Abreu, a spokesman with the UN humanitarian agency, said.
Livelihoods have been lost and people are wondering how they will cope in a country struggling with one of the world’s highest poverty rates.
With notebook and pen in hand, elderly Luis Momade walked near the beach in Pemba on Saturday, taking advantage of a rare lull in the rains to record the damage from the cyclone. The president of the local Paquite Residents’ Association, his notebook was almost full with names and figures of boats damaged or destroyed.
With unemployment rife and many in coastal areas surviving with fishing and related activities, not going to sea could mean going hungry for days.
Men, women and children foraged in the waters off the littered shore, looking for seashells to sell.
Kenneth claims 5, villages wiped out and thousands made homeless – AIWA! NO!
A powerful cyclone has smashed into Mozambique, flattening thousands of homes and flooding low-lying areas; BBC News
Cyclone Kenneth has ‘entirely wiped out’ some villages in Mozambique, after making landfall on Thursday, according to a UN official.
One aid worker said it looked like areas had been ‘run over by a bulldozer’. It comes just a month after Cyclone Idai killed 900 people across three countries, including Mozambique.
A powerful cyclone has smashed into Mozambique, flattening thousands of homes and flooding low-lying areas. Cyclone Kenneth struck with winds of 220km/h (140mph) barely a month after a previous cyclone killed hundreds and devastated large areas – BBC News
Heavy rain continued to fall on Friday, raising fears of more floods. Authorities have advised people to move to higher ground amid concern that thousands may be trapped in remote villages.
Mozambique was still recovering from Cyclone Idai, which killed more than 900 people across three countries in March.
Cyclone Kenneth had already killed three people on the island nation of Comoros.
Hurricane Season Has Started Early Four Years in a Row. Is That Unusual? – Jonathan Erdman//weather.com
Tropical Cyclone Kenneth is now making a catastrophic, unprecedented strike innorthern Mozambique just weeks after another Tropical Cyclone Idai’scatastrophic storm surge and rainfall flooding swamped parts of central Mozambique; Malawi and Zimbabwe.
At a Glance
Tropical Cyclone Kenneth is now striking Northern Mozambique.
It is the first known hurricane-strength landfall in Cabo Delgado Province in recent times.
Destructive winds and life-threatening storm surge will accompany the landfall.
Feet of rain are likely the next several days, leading to widespread, life-threatening flooding.
This catastrophe comes just over a month after the devastating strike from Tropical Cyclone Idai.
Tropical Cyclone Kenneth is now making a catastrophic, unprecedented strike in northern Mozambique just weeks after another Tropical Cyclone Idai’s catastrophic storm surge and rainfall flooding swamped parts of central Mozambique.
The eye of Kenneth is making landfall north of the city of Pemba, which has a population of about 200,000, roughly the population of Birmingham, Alabama.
Mozambique’s national airline LAM suspended flights between the capital Maputo and Pemba, Africa News reported.
Mozambique’s National Disasters Management Institute (INGC) told Africa News it would relocate rescue equipment, including boats and helicopters previously reserved for victims of last month’s Tropical Cyclone Idai to Cabo Delgado Province where Kenneth will strike.
The INGC estimated 682,500 people were at risk from the storm in Cabo Delgado and Niassa provinces, 112,000 of which could see hurricane-force winds.
Since wind flows clockwise around tropical cyclones in the Southern Hemisphere, this landfall would drive a life-threatening storm surge of 3 to 5 meters – 10 to 16 feet – along and south of the landfall location, according to the Météo-France Tropical Cyclone Center in La Reunion, which issues official forecasts for tropical cyclones in this part of the Indian Ocean basin.
Destructive winds will occur in the eyewall near the landfall location, capable of destroying poorly-built homes, heavily damaging even well-built homes, and downing numerous trees and powerlines.
Rainfall Flood Danger
Kenneth will then slow down and possibly stall after landfall. While it will quickly weaken, slow-moving or stalling tropical cyclones are notoriously prodigious rainfall producers.
A swath of northern Mozambique, including most of the Cabo Delgado Province, may receive 10 to 20 inches (25 to 50 centimeters) of rain, or even locally higher, through this weekend, triggering potentially catastrophic, widespread flooding.
Pemba, Mozambique, may see two to three times as much rainfall as it would normally see in April. The city typically sees around 5 inches of rainfall in April. Some locations may receive 50 percent or more of their typical annual rainfall in a matter of days.
Comoro Islands Slammed
Kenneth’s eyewall slammed the Comoro Islands, an archipelago with a population of nearly 1 million people between the African mainland and Madagascar, early Wednesday with wind-driven rainfall, storm surge and wind gusts as high as 145 mph.
According to AFP, some shacks were destroyed in the capital, Moroni. Trees and powerlines were also downed in the city.
Comoran media reported airports and schools were closed ahead of Kenneth’s arrival Wednesday.
Tropical Cyclone History in Comoros and Mozambique
The Comoro Islands have little experience with tropical cyclones since the islands lie very close to the equator, between 11 and 13 degrees south latitude. According to EM-DAT, the Comoros have endured only three damaging tropical cyclones since 1983. The deadliest and most destructive was Tropical Cyclone Elinah, which passed through the islands as a tropical storm with 45- to 50-mph winds on Jan. 11, 1983, killing 33 people and causing $23 million in damages. All 33 deaths occurred when a huge wave swept 40 people on the island of Anjouan into the water.
The last time a hurricane-strength tropical cyclone affected the islands was on Feb. 17, 1996, when Category 1 Doloresse passed about 40 miles to the west of the northern Comoros Islands.
Tropical Cyclone Kenneth is only the third satellite-era system to evolve to a moderate tropical storm stage or higher in the area north of the Mozambique Channel, according to Météo-France. The two other systems, Elinah in 1983 and Doloresse in 1996, did not reach the African coast.
“Tropical Cyclone Kenneth therefore threatens an area where the population is not used to cyclones,” noted a ReliefWeb update.
The Aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Idai
Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall on March 14 as a Category 2 storm with 110-mph winds just north of Beira, Mozambique (population 530,000), near the time of high tide, driving a devastating storm surge into the city. Idai also caused enormous wind damage, ripping off hundreds of roofs in Mozambique’s fourth-largest city. Since the cyclone was large and moving slowly at landfall, near 6 mph, it was a prodigious rainmaker, with satellite-estimated rainfall amounts in excess of 2 feet in portions of central Mozambique.
The official death toll for Idai on April 23 stood at 1,007, with 602 killed in Mozambique, 344 in Zimbabwe, 60 in Malawi and one in Madagascar. Total economic damages to infrastructure in Mozambique alone were estimated at $1 billion (over 8 percent of their gross domestic product) – their most expensive natural disaster in history. The World Bank estimated that combined damages to Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi would exceed $2 billion.
As of April 22, ReliefWeb reported that 73,000 people in Mozambique were living in shelters, and 1.85 million people were in need of assistance. About 6,600 cases of cholera had been reported, including at least seven deaths, but the number of cases was on the decline thanks to a successful vaccination effort.
Portions of this article were originally from Weather Underground’s Category 6 blog, written by meteorologists Dr. Jeff Masters and Bob Henson.
Weather forecasters say Cyclone Kenneth will make landfall on Mozambique’s coast on Thursday, bringing heavy rainfall, strong winds and waves of several metres to the southern African nation, which is still reeling from the effects of devastating Cyclone Idai.
“It’s going to make landfall tomorrow afternoon at Cabo Delgado, on the northeastern coast of Mozambique, and it is going to be a cyclone with wind speeds which could be 140 km per hour (87 miles per hour),” said Jan Vermeulen, from the South African Weather Service.
International energy companies such as Exxon Mobil have been developing huge natural gas fields off the coast of northern Mozambique.