Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall on March 15 in Mozambique, leaving a trail of destruction that spread to neighboring Malawi and Zimbabwe, impacting millions of people. UN officials have said that this is likely the worst weather-related disaster ever to hit the southern hemisphere.
The port city of Beira in Mozambique has been particularly hard hit, with complete power loss and the city surrounded and cut off by flood waters. Over 750 people have died, with many more still missing across the three countries. Over 400,000 people are estimated to now be homeless. Vast areas of land remain flooded as relief workers race against the clock to provide aid and rescue. Disease is a grave threat as standing water abounds and crowded conditions in emergency camps prevent effective hygiene. The impact of the cyclone will be felt for months or even years to come, as many farmers living in the affected areas have lost their source of income due to the floodwaters.
The Church of the Nazarene in Africa has a huge presence in Mozambique, and has felt the effects of this storm. Most of the Nazarene churches located in the impact area are completely destroyed, and some of them remain under water. Based on initial estimates, almost 9,000 Nazarenes have suffered the effects of the storm and lost their homes or livelihoods. The undamaged churches are preparing to provide food and emergency items for distribution to those in need, particularly the Nazarene families who are suffering and displaced.
In the southern part of Malawi, the government has set up over 180 temporary shelters for over 30,000 displaced residents. The Nazarene church in Malawi is preparing to respond with outreach to those housed in emergency shelters, focusing on water, food, sanitation, and hygiene supplies. Two Nazarene churches are serving as shelters, while seven other Nazarene churches were destroyed by the floods.
The Church of the Nazarene is continuing to assess the storm damage in Zimbabwe in order to develop a coordinated response to the needs in that country.