Mozambique

Mozambique: Tropical Storm Eloise - Information Bulletin no. 1

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This bulletin is being issued for information only and reflects the current situation and details available at this time. The Mozambique Red Cross Society (CVM), with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and its members, are taking preparedness actions and following the course of events and will determine the need for international assistance in the next hours.

The situation

Tropical Storm Eloise is expected to turn into a Cyclone with expected winds between 140km/h and 160km/h. The storm will make landfall in the Sofala Province, Central Mozambique, about 20km north of the City of Beira in the first hours of Saturday, 23 January. However, heavy rains will start to affect the coastal areas of the Zambezia and Sofala provinces from this evening, 22 of January. The cyclone will cross through Central Mozambique with considerable strength and potential for widespread floods.
It is expected to decrease in intensity as it crosses southern Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Over 1 million people are living in “red areas” along the projected route of the cyclone. Population in the Sofala Province, particularly the districts of Beira, Buzi and Nhamatanda suffered severely from cyclone Idai in 2019 and their houses, agriculture fields and coping capacity has not been restored. In addition, consecutive floods throughout the past year, namely in the last days of December 2020 (tropical storm Chalane) have raised river levels and dams are at a tipping point.

It is reported that there are already 4,000 households affected by floods in Buzi, 266 households in Nhamatanda and 326 households in Beira. The provinces of Inhambane, Manica, Niassa, Sofala, Tete and Zambezia have already received between 200mm and 300mm of rains since 9 January and are predicted to receive heavy rains in the days ahead. The Inhanombe and Mutamba basins in southern Mozambique are both at alert levels—in addition to the Buzi and Pungue basins in central Mozambique.

From previous events of this kind, Tropical Storm Eloise is expected to damage houses and other infrastructure, by pulling out roofs and destroying structures of the most vulnerable dwellings, living people unprotected. Power outages are likely, which could affect communications and basic services. Floods may leave people stranded in some localities in need of rescue and will cause displacement of populations to accommodation centres and informal sites which will lead to the need for supply of water, hygiene items and food. Floods will likely destroy crops that have been planted from October to January (regular planting season), and add food insecurity and economic strain to families for the months ahead. Health outbreaks cannot be ruled out as frequent spikes of Cholera and Malaria are common in these areas. Finally, with increased cases of COVID-19 in recent weeks, overcrowded sites may intensify rates of transmission.

Projections of Affected Population

  • Best Case Scenario - 100,000 people affected: The cyclone will decrease in intensity immediately after landfall, but heavy rainfall will persist for over 24 hours. The amount of rain will be sufficient to flood low areas of Beira and Buzi. Further flooding may arrive some days later as accumulated water flows down the Pungue and Buzi Rivers from Zimbabwe.

  • Likely Scenario – 400,000 people affected: The cyclone will intensify in landfall and persist in land for 24 hours, well into areas of Sofala and South of Manica Provinces. Torrential rains will immediately flood low areas of Beira, Buzi, Nhamatanda, Chibabava and Sussundenga. Accumulation of water in Zimbabwe will flow downstream, enlarging the flooded areas for several days.