Mozambique Flood Report
Following is an update by Norberto, a Mozambiquan pastor who works for Iris Ministries. He flew over the floodlands last week to see the damage and take pictures, and this is his report:
I left Monday with Joe, we flew to Morrumbala. We took off from there to fly over the Zambezi river. As we were flying about 200-300 feet high, I was so shocked because I had never seen so much water in the Zambezi River. It is true that there was more water this year than in 2000 or 2001 or the flood we had last year. I’ve never seen so much devastation from a flood – I would say hundreds and hundreds of houses under the water. We followed the Zambezi from Morrumbala toward Caia. We saw so many people that were still being trapped by the water. I believe the government still did not see many of those people because you could only see them from the sky or a boat. I believe it would be really easy to rescue people with a boat because there are many places you cannot drive to. And also looking down, I found a lot of people have lost 1000’s of acres of farms and I believe so many of our churches near the Zambezi were washed away.
Basically every house is underwater and there is nothing we can do. I was just really praying and thinking that I wish we just had a helicopter because there was so many people just waving and needing rescue but we could not pick them up because we were in an airplane. We did fly a little bit in Beira and we found that even in Beira a lot of places have been flooded. Then we flew into Tete where there had never been any flooding. We flew at 4500 feet and looked over Tete – the flooding was really bad and the water had taken over many places in Tete. The Zambezi had cut lines through the city, wiping out everything in the low places and leaving many people stranded on islands. A lot of people were waving and asking if we could help them, but there was nothing we could do.
I went with one of the teams to take the food to the camps. It’s not fair to see people living in those kind of conditions because a lot of people don’t have any medical supplies or food. We took trucks with 200 bags of rice and 18 bags of beans to the camp. You can see that the people had been waiting a long time and were only living on black fish they got out of the river. A lot of people don’t have any tents and were making houses out of grass that they had cut. The houses were about 10 feet by 10 feet and some of the families had 6 people in that small house. The land
wasn’t very clean like the land we saw last time – basically that people are tearing everything with their bare hands because they don’t have machetes or hoes to clear the land. There was a lot of joy when we handed out the food to the people, but there were so many people at the camps we passed that looked so sad because we had no food for them. It is true that there is so much more help that is needed and many people that need food and need to be rescued.
On Wednesday evening, I went to speak to a man who was a victim and ask him a couple questions. I asked him how bad the floods were, and he told me that they had never seen so much water before and he had never seen so many of the farms wiped away. Everything had been washed away by the current including their pots and pans. As we were talking, he told me that the day before the team got there, there were 6 people in two canoes trying to cross the river. The current caught the canoes and flipped them. There were 4 men and 1 woman with a baby in a capulana. The woman managed to hang onto a stalk of sugar but when she looked behind her the baby had slipped out of the capulana. The woman was the only survivor, and the man took me to the place where it happened. I was sitting with this guy and he told me so many people were trapped by the water.
On the 6th, while one man was trying to catch fish to feed his family, a crocodile came up and ripped off the flesh off the man’s left arm and thigh. There was a man that came alongside and started beating the crocodile until it left the first man alone. I could not take pictures because I did not think the government would want me to. The man got taken to Kilimani hospital, but already the man had lost so much blood that he was not coherent. There are so many crocodiles and many people have been attacked or eaten by the crocodiles. There are many people that have tried to cross the floodwaters and so many of them have been attacked by crocodiles. It’s really horrible.
For a lot of people it’s hard because their houses are in the water and they cannot stay on their roofs because they don’t have the nice metal roofs. I believe disease is going to be a real problem because many people are just standing in a couple inches of water. Malaria is going to be really bad and so is foot swelling because everyone is just standing in water all day. A lot of people really need clothes and plastic bags on the roofs. The kids need clothes, blankets, and plastic bags and they really need teams of people to play with the people and tell them Jesus loves them and that someone cares about them. I believe this is an opportunity for the worldwide church to come and show God’s love to these people.
There must be people that are willing to go and play with the kids – a lot of the schools are under water and the kids can not go to school. Instead of just feeding people, I believe there is something else the Holy Spirit wants us to do – if we can buy rice seed and bean seed and corn meal along with hoes, the people will have a harvest in a couple months. This will help the people a lot because most of the people live through agriculture anyway. We feel like this will be a tool to help us invest in the people and give them something a lot more lasting than a little rice.
From what I’ve seen, this is a really huge disaster. I don’t know how long Mozambique is going to take to recover from this. So many schools are underwater and many bridges were destroyed. The people need food, they need help, they need Jesus – they just need a lot of help. We have a team in Morrumbala buying and handing out food, but we need so many more people. But this isn’t the worst of it – I heard that Zimbabwe (or Zambia) has 5 dams that they are going to open up soon. It’s not Zimbabwe’s fault – they really have no choice or their country will be flooded too. When this happens, the damage will be unbelievable…
Pass on the message for people to pray about how they can help us. Whether they send money, food, or come themselves to help, we need all we can get.