A mother holding her young daughter in her arms stands in front of white tents set up in a temporary camp in Mozambique where Cyclone Idai has caused catastrophic damage.

2019 Cyclone Idai: Fact, Figures and How to Help

When Cyclone Idai struck northern Mozambique on March 15, 2019, four of the country’s 10 providences were already flooded due to heavy rainfall that fell earlier in the month. Hundreds of thousands of people that had previously been evacuated, including some 60,000 children, were living in shelters not equipped to handle the impending cyclone.

By the time the high-end Category 2 storm ripped into Mozambique with 110 mph (175 kph) winds, families forced from their homes were left with nothing. 

Moving inland into Zimbabwe and Malawi, Cyclone Idai left a trail of destroyed homes, schools, hospitals and infrastructure in its wake. A 30-mile-wide area in Mozambique’s Sofala province had been completely submerged.

As torrential rains continue to pound the southern African region, it is a race against the clock to save children’s lives. Save the Children’s Emergency Health Unit is on the ground helping children and families devastated by Cyclone Idai. Relief items like tents, water jugs and tarps are being distributed to the families who have been left with nothing.

FAQs: What you need to know about the Cyclone Idai

Who was affected by the Mozambique cyclone?

In addition to the hundreds of thousands of people in Mozambique previously evacuated due to flooding earlier in the month, many additional families and children were forced to leave home with nothing. It is estimated that 350,000 children in Mozambique have been impacted by Cyclone Idai. 90% of Mozambique’s coastal city of Beira is said to be damaged or destroyed.

“Thousands of children lived in areas completely engulfed by water, said Machiel Pouw, Save the Children’s response leader in Mozambique. “In many places, no roofs or tree tops are even visible above the floods. In other areas, people are clinging to rooftops desperately waiting to be rescued.”

“A family saw their brick house swept away from them. When they went to another house for safety, the roof collapsed,” said Machiel Pouw. “Another family fled for safety in a tree. There are tens of thousands of heartbreaking stories like this, lives shattered over the past days.”

The disaster is one of the worst in southern Africa in decades. Areas of Zimbabwe and Malawi are also under water. Concerns grow that should dams in Zimbabwe fail, there could be even more flooding in Mozambique.

What is Cyclone Idai’s death toll?

Tragically, 1,000 people are reported to have died. Unfortunately, this number is expected to rise: torrential rains continue, dams are reaching critical levels, and many people are still stranded in areas that rescue teams have not yet been able to reach.

What is the difference between a hurricane, typhoon and cyclone?

A storm becomes a hurricane, typhoon or cyclone once it reaches wind speeds of 74 mph.

What we call a storm depends on where it occurs. Hurricanes occur in the Atlantic and Caribbean, typhoons in the Asia-Northwest Pacific region and cyclones are specific to the South Pacific and Indian Ocean.

How is Save the Children is responding to Cyclone Idai?

Thanks to the support of our donors, Save the Children is on the ground helping children and families devastated by Cyclone Idai.

A dozen relief trucks have already brought critical supplies like tarps, hygiene kits, water jugs and tents to hard-hit Manica province. Our teams are flying additional items into Beira.

We have also deployed Save the Children’s Emergency Health Unit to assess the damage to health facilities, which will help prevent disease outbreaks and make sure children have access to lifesaving healthcare.

Save the Children is a member of the COSACA consortium or aid organizations and is working in close coordination with the government and the National Institute of Disaster Management to support children impacted by the disaster.

How can I help Cyclone Idai survivors?

Please donate to Save the Children’s Cyclone Idai Children’s Relief Fund to help Cyclone Idai survivors. Your donation can provide lifesaving relief.


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