January 21, 2012 Flash Flood Disaster in Malawi

David Morrison, base director, Bangula, Malawi:

 After a prolonged period of insufficient rain farmers needed for the crops to survive, a powerful storm delivered 115mm of rain within a period of only 90 minutes over Bangula late Thursday afternoon. The immense volume of rain caused havoc throughout the villages. The depth of water streaming through the Bangula market area was over 4’, crashing through shops, destroying merchandise, and collapsing buildings. The devastation for people in the villages was worse.


[A piece of the front fence, some clothes and a bucket is all that remains where once this family house stood]

Yesterday morning we surveyed the damage and were overwhelmed. We saw at least 150 homes that were completely destroyed in a village called Tambo in central Bangula. Families were picking through the rubble, searching for cups, plates, bottles, whatever they could salvage. Thankfully no deaths or missing persons have been reported but many complain about the loss of their chickens and goats that were carried away in the floods.  


       [Child overwhelmed by what has just happened]     
[House after house demolished by the flash floods]

Yesterday the District Commissioner visited and reported to the President’s Office declaring a disaster. There has been much infrastructure damage. The only highway south out of Bangula has been severed by the destructive flood water which has now cut off the lower part of the district from the rest of Malawi.  

Bangula has struggled with food insecurity this season and there is currently an outbreak of cholera. This natural disaster will only compound the vulnerable and insecure conditions already experienced by the people.

 [This single mother stands in front of the remains of her house]

 [Lone sandal found among the debris]

[An exposed house partially collapsed]

Another 55 mm of rain has since fallen, hindering clean-up efforts. The damage assessment continues and the numbers of people who have lost their homes continues to rise. Some estimate it could be as many as 400-500 homes destroyed. People have taken refuge with relatives but the majority have moved into the local primary school classrooms.

Yesterday afternoon we deployed our pastor students from the Bible school along with missionaries and Iris staff to help deliver food and clothing to families. We went from rubble to rubble, sharing our sympathies and prayers, and distributing rice meal packages in order to sustain them for the day. However, the need is so great and we have emptied the little margin of relief food and materials that we had left in the containers.  


 [Family scavenging through the remains of their home]

People desperately need food, blankets, soap, cups, plates, buckets, and cooking pots now. We ask for yur prayers at this very difficult time for us here. Our challenging season just got tougher. I will update you as I am able.

 [Children beside items their family were able to save]


[Children waiting outside their collapsed home for help]

If you would like to support the ongoing relief work, donations can be mailed to Iris Ministries Canada, 10 - 1425 Abbeywood Drive, Oakville, Ontario L6M 3R3 Canada. Online donations on the IMC "Contact & Support" page will be accepted as well. Please ensure you designate your gifts for "Malawi Flood Relief" on the memo line of your cheque or on the CanadaHelps online listing.

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