January 29, 2022: Tropical Storm Anna Pummels Malawi
We are faced with a serious humanitarian disaster.
Tropical storm Anna pummeled Malawi on January 24th with high winds and torrential downpours causing extensive damage to infrastructure, homes, livestock, and crops. Floods of unprecedented measures affected over 200,000 people, displacing thousands, and taking 19 lives. 15 districts in the southern and central regions of Malawi are affected including Nsanje, the most southern district where the Iris base is located. Flood waters rose to the height recorded in January 2015, and that was declared the worst flooding disaster in 100 years. This past week water engulfed the Bangula round-about and the highway heading south, as well as entire villages on the north and south-eastern sides of the town.
The Iris base sustained damage to three sections of the security wall that collapsed, and two large trees were blown over in the wind narrowly missing one of our children’s homes. Other than that, the base weathered the storm unscathed. Several Iris churches in the southern region of Malawi were damaged or destroyed.
In the local villages, many houses collapsed under the pounding rain or the force of surging flood waters. Food security in the region was already at a crisis level resulting from drought that harmed last year’s planting season. Much of this season’s crops planted in December have been washed away leaving people in a desperate situation and heightening the food security level to that of an emergency.
Unfortunately, the current situation mirrors the devasting flood experienced here in 2015. The emergency now is compounded by the electrical blackout since the storm struck on Monday, January 24th. Damage sustained to electrical towers, transformers, and lines that supply electricity to the southern districts of Malawi is significant and will likely take weeks to repair. Damage inflicted on the M1 highway, the only route in and out of the southern districts, also requires considerable reconstruction before vehicles can pass.
Iris Malawi is doing what we can to help by giving what we have – water, food and love. People are in desperate need of food and clean water. The solar power at the Iris base allows us to pump clean water and transport it to the flood victims near us using a 10,000 litre water tank on the back of the Steyr truck. A couple of weeks ago we received a 40’ container full of MannaPack (rice/soy meals) to support our relief programs. The timing of this consignment has allowed us to share with those taking refuge at the Bangula camp for the displaced.
The severely damaged main highway has also severed the supply chain. Fuel stations have run out of fuel. Groceries in shops are depleted. The situation is eroding by the day. There is an urgent need for help but until the main highway is reconstructed there is no way of getting relief items to Chikwawa and Nsanje districts.
We are thankful for the developed infrastructure on the base such as the solar power system and generators for producing electricity that sustains the base with clean water, security lighting as well as electrical supply for office equipment and the Primary school. This enables us to help others around us more effectively.
Many have asked how they can help. We need prayer for supernatural multiplication of the limited resources we have at our disposal now: clean water, food, and diesel for generators. We also ask prayer for protection from injury and disease.
Once the highway is repaired and the supply chain re-opens, we will need money to purchase food for emergency relief, not only for the flood victims, but other vulnerable poor in the communities as well. We will also need materials to assist people in rebuilding their homes and churches. If you are able to help you can direct your gift to “Malawi Flood Relief 2022” through Iris Ministries Canada www.irismin.ca/giving, or in the United States through Iris Global www.irisglobal.org/give.
This afternoon Joanna and some of the older Iris youth provided a safe distraction for the children living at the camp for the displaced. Amid calamity, joy and laughter was kindled as they played and sang together. More importantly, they were reminded that they are not forgotten, and that love casts out fear.
Thank you for your prayers at this difficult time.