And now Cyclone Freddy

Friday, March 10, was a beautiful day. Rain began to fall later that evening, and at first, what seemed like a typical rain of the wet season, soon became a relentless downpour that continued into Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

The amount of water released over Malawi by Freddy in just a few days was unprecedented. The local hospital soon became inundated with injured people as reports, videos and photos of flash floods, landslides, washed-out roads and bridges, crumpled houses, spoiled crops and lost lives came streaming in. Local residents said this was the worst cyclone they had ever seen.

Those who suffered the most were the ones living on hillsides, near rivers or in low lying areas. SIM workers witnessed the aftermath of large rivers of mud that flowed down hillsides, sweeping away houses and property. Downed power lines also dotted the landscape cutting access to power and water.

An SIM nurse experienced first-hand the difficulties the local hospital faced in its response to Freddy. A young man that would have normally been saved in a Western hospital died because resources were not available to help him. The hospital morgue ran out of space as local residents clamoured to search for missing loved ones. The morgue doors even became difficult to open due to the number of bodies stacked up in its way. As of March 17, the reported death toll is over 300. Numbers are expected to climb in the coming days as search and rescue teams rummage through the debris.

The need is great!

In the midst of the destruction, local relief efforts began immediately. Local churches organised volunteers to support the collection and distribution of needed supplies to affected areas. Teams purchased maize, beans, sugar, salt, soap, toothpaste, blankets and other necessities and sorted them into relief buckets. Meanwhile, teams with all-terrain vehicles delivered supplies and relief buckets to the hard-hit areas.

One SIM volunteer said this, “It is really wonderful to see the outpouring of support by so many different people. Teams are working together in good fellowship to organise and deliver supplies. Adults, teenagers and youth carry and fetch items from the cars that are donating items for the flood affected victims, with no grumbling, just teamwork. It was also quite humbling when we delivered supplies at a school which had been transformed into a refugee centre. There are hundreds of locals now living at the school who had lost everything. They were very grateful to receive our donations.”

You can help!

SIM Malawi is responding to this disaster by providing care for victims. Right now, SIM Malawi is working with our partners in location to provide a coordinated response which will likely include provision of food, basic utensils, clothing, temporary shelter, counselling, and transport. More information on SIM’s specific role in the relief effort will be posted in the coming days. Please pray for the people of Malawi and for SIM Malawi and our partners demonstrating the love of Christ at this difficult time. You may help the victims of this disaster by donating to SIM Malawi’s Disaster Relief project 96759 by using the Web links below.

Freddy was powerful, but God is greater!

Psalm 18:2 “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

Please pray with us:

• We pray for those who have been devastated by the recent natural disaster. We hold in our hearts the families forever changed by grief and loss.

• Bless those who have survived and heal their memories of trauma and devastation. May they have the courage to face the long road of rebuilding ahead. May they put their trust in God their Rock and Refugee

• Bless the work of relief agencies and those providing emergency assistance. May their work be guided by the grace and strength that comes from God alone.

Your financial support and prayers are greatly appreciated. For online giving to SIM Malawi’s Disaster Relief project 96759, please click here