Description of the disaster
Heavy rains and strong winds in the early hours of 24th January 2014 resulted in flooding on the islands of Praslin, La Digue and northern parts of Mahe in the Seychelles. In the following days, ongoing rainfall and strong winds continued to affect the three islands. The districts of Baie St Anne and Marie Jeanne Estate on Praslin, and most of the low land and coastal areas on La Digue Island were particularly affected.
The main damage and effects reported are stagnant flood water in the lowland areas on La Digue and several landslides after the collapse of terraced fields/riverbanks. The local authority on Praslin reported a number of landslides, which resulted in the main road connecting the two main districts being completely blocked and unable to be accessed for a period of 3 days. Consequently, the main secondary school was closed as students were unable to access the educational facility. A total of 300 households (1,500 people) in Marie Jeanne Estate on Praslin, and 500 households on La Digue (2,500 people) have been affected. La Pass district in La Digue is the most severely affected.
Local authorities on Mahe reported a landslide in the northern part of the island, in Bel Ombre district on the night of February 1st. This landslide also caused road access to be cut. Furthermore, a river bank in Bel Ombre district collapsed and caused flooding of approximately 20 houses.
The rainy season normally lasts until the end of February. Occasional heavy rainfall during this period is a regular occurrence in the affected areas. According to Seychelles Meteorological Services reoccurring heavy rains are expected in the coming week due to the ideal low pressure condition over Seychelles such weather systems. It is expected that such conditions can result in more flooding and potentially increasing landslides.
During a similar period in 2013, the La Digue population experienced the same weather conditions and some people are still traumatized as a result of last year’s events. Some of the most vulnerable families have exhausted most of their existing coping mechanisms.