On 15th May, and for four subsequent days, powerful swells hit many islands throughout the Maldives. According to the Department of Meteorology, the swells were generated by waves between 10 - 15 feet from a dissipated polar storm 3,500 miles south west of Maldives (near 50S, off the coast of South Africa). After generation, the waves traveled northeast for a few thousands kilometres and for a few days (the longest wavelengths travel the fastest) across the Indian Ocean.
Following appeals from the southern island and atoll authorities in the Maldives archipelago, a Joint Rapid Assessment mission traveled to the most severely affected islands in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll on 19th May. The purpose of the mission was to observe, assess and analyse the damage and the needs of the people, immediate and long-term. Six sectors were assessed: infrastructure, health, water and sanitation, livelihood, environment, and emergency relief needs. However, due to time constraints, not every sector could be covered on each island. The islands visited were Fares-maathoda, Rathafandhoo, Nadalla, Madaveli and Fiyoari. Fortunately there were no fatalities but 1649 people were evacuated from their homes to community facilities, families and friends on the islands in the immediate aftermath.