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Cyclone Hits Gorongosa & Surrounding Villages

As you may have heard, a cyclone hit Mozambique last week. Visitors to Gorongosa fly in and out of Beira, and we are all very concerned for the people and animals affected by the storm. Below is the information posted on the park’s website:

If you would like to make a donation to the Gorongosa National Park cyclone relief fund to help, go to http://www.gorongosa.org/cyclone_relief_fund.

How has Hurricane Idai affected Mozambique?

A category 4 tropical cyclone (Idai) made landfall on 14 March in the district of Dondo, Sofala province. The port city of Beira has been severely damaged leaving the population isolated without electricity and communications.

Before the storm hit, parts of the central region of the country had already been affected by heavy flooding, including Tete, Zambezia, Sofala, where Gorongosa National Park is located, and Niassa provinces.

What’s the latest news on the situation in Mozambique and Beira?

Yesterday, the President of Mozambique, Filipe Jacinto Nyusi flew over and visited some of the affected areas and witnessed some of the devastation caused by the cyclone and heavy rains.

Images and reports from the people on the ground indicate extensive floods, causing fatalities and displacements and significantly damaging transport infrastructure.

According to the Red Cross, 90% of Beira, which has 500,000 inhabitants, has been damaged or destroyed.

Communications with colleagues in Beira remained very limited today. The Government of Mozambique, along with partners and donors are working to reconnect the city of Beira.

“I think this is the biggest natural disaster Mozambique has ever faced. Everything is destroyed,” Celso Correia, the environment minister, said. “Our priority now is to save human lives.”

Forecasts indicate that flash and fluvial flooding, within major river systems such as the Zambezi, Pungwe, Revue and Save may occur.

Unfortunately, according to the weather forecast there is still more rain on its way which will further put people at risk and which will hamper the recovery efforts.

What is being done? What will happen over the next few days?

Gorongosa National Park will be working closely with Government of Mozambique and The Ministry of the Environment to help local communities in the afflicted provinces.

Emergency food assistance and rescue operations will be supported by the Government of Mozambique, by NGO’s and by the Gorongosa Project.

Many of our partners are also working to support humanitarian aid and disaster relief, including Irish Aid, World Food Program, Global Environment Facility, the United Nations, and others.

How is everyone in Gorongosa Park?

The Park has been right in the middle of cyclone Idai which hit central Mozambique. While our team has been mostly evacuated with only 15 people remaining in camp – we have established that the Chitengo team is fine, as are our teams in Vila Gorongosa and Chimoio. Like anyone else we have not been able to get any news from Beira as yet. Our thoughts are with all our staff, colleagues and partners in the Buffer Zone and the entire area affected.

How can I get in touch with my friends in Beira?

Teams are working around the clock to re-establish communications in and around Beira. Electricity and cellphone services are still down.

How can I help people affected by Cyclone Idai?

We have set up a Cyclone Relief Fund – in addition, the UN has a fund to which you can donate, and you can continue to check in here, where we will update with accurate news as we receive it.

What is the Cyclone Relief Fund for?

We are aiming to immediately raise USD 400,000 for urgent needs. We will engage further with donors and individuals for the longer-term reconstruction efforts.
The Gorongosa National Park Cyclone Relief Fund will be primarily for the following:

– Purchase and distribute food and chlorine tablets to at least 300 families who are associated with Gorongosa National Park in the Vinho community near Chitengo, directly affected by the severe flooding.
– Facilitate materials for makeshift shelters for these families.
– Support the large national and international emergency response through manpower for food distribution throughout the Buffer Zone, including an initial situation assessment.
– Try to track our staff and their families in Beria and support them through access to food, safe water, advance salaries and loans to rebuild their livelihoods.
– Help the park to reopen access routes to the park and to nearby communities.
– Support the reopening of Gorongosa National Parks’s Beira office to become functional again.

How does the fund work?

The Gorongosa National Park Cyclone Relief Fund is linked to our parent organisation in the USA. The funds will be collected and transferred into our Mozambican operational account. We assure you that your contribution will be directly used for emergency relief work on the ground. Our normal operations are fully funded and we do not need to raise salaries and other overheads.

This is a tense and difficult time. Thank you all for your thoughts, for your prayers, and for your patience as we work to support local communities and get out accurate information as we receive it.

If you would like to make a donation to the Gorongosa National Park cyclone relief fund to help, go to http://www.gorongosa.org/cyclone_relief_fund.