Homes washed away in Madagascar

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'It was early, about 6am, when we heard people shouting, ‘The water is coming, the water is coming, the water is coming.' We didn’t realise it would be dangerous for our whole village and family. We stayed for another 30 minutes and then suddenly we were hit by massive waves. It washed away all our goods, belongings and our home. We lost everything. We just ran and swam away from our house with nothing. All we own in the world has gone, washed away.'

Lanorhiy Rasoanantenaina and her family were one of many who lost their homes to Cyclone Haruna in Madagascar's village of Ambosab close to the Fiherenana dyke. The tropical cyclone brought heavy rains that caused the dyke to collapse, which created a tsunami-type flood with millions of tonnes of sand and soil that destroyed all villages in its path.

The Rasoanantenaina family is currently living under a tarpaulin amongst 55 other families in the schoolyard of Ltcee Antaninarehina Infant School.

ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member Peter Pearce (AU) was with Anthony Keating (AU) when they visited the school to carry out a needs assessment:

'On arrival we were overwhelmed by the stale stench in the air of the remnants of what the flood left behind. The school's roof was totally destroyed. We found three families huddled together under one of the tarpaulins, one being the Rasoanantenaina family. Like most of the families here, fishing is their trade.

'We spoke to Avisoa, Lanorhiy's sister, who had a very young baby in her arms called Harina. She was named after Cyclone Haruna and is only four days old. She was heavily pregnant when the storm hit, and I couldn't help but feel admiration for them both with their great strength.'

The SRT is working with in-country contact Madagascar's disaster management agency, BNGRC, to bring emergency shelter and other disaster relief to these displaced families, including the Rasoanantenaina family, who have been relocated to the army base football field in Toliara in the southwest of the island.

Prepositioned ShelterBoxes in Madagascar's Antananarivo are being used which has enabled a rapid response to the shelter needs of these families who have been left with nothing.

On 22 February, Cyclone Haruna struck the southwest region of Madagascar, bringing gusts of wind reaching speeds of over 200 kilometres per hour and heavy rains causing devastating floods.

The category 2 cyclone destroyed nearly 1,500 houses, displacing nearly 10,000 people and flooding more than 2,000 hectares of rice crops, and seriously damaged 7,000 hectares of other agriculture areas.