The devastation caused by Tropical Storm Freddy that hit the southern region of Africa this weekend has been unprecedented, with over 200 people confirmed dead in Malawi and 20 deaths reported in Mozambique.
Freddy, which formed off the coast of Australia, traversed the entire south Indian Ocean, traveling more than 4,970 miles before coming ashore in Madagascar and Mozambique in late February. After that, it curved back and made landfall in Mozambique a second time two weeks later before journeying inland to Malawi.
The cyclone has swept away homes, caused rivers to overflow, and brought major cities like Blantyre, Mallawi’s commercial hub, to a total standstill. Mudslides took many lives. The damage extends beyond the physical destruction, as medical charity Doctors Without Borders reported over 40 children were dead on arrival at the main referral hospital in Blantyre. Many are worried that the storm will exacerbate a cholera outbreak.
The damage is compounded by prolonged power and blackouts, washed-up roads and bridges, and fierce winds that carry away homes and block out helicopters from providing assistance. The ten southern districts worst hit by Freddys’ wrath have been declared under a state of disaster, and the government is pleading for help for the tens of thousands left without food and shelter.
Experts say climate change is to blame for the intensity of Tropical Storm Freddy and has contributed to the storm breaking records for its strength. This unnerving event serves as a warning that with increased global temperatures, the power and effects of storms, floods, and other natural disasters could be more long-lasting and damaging than before.
The physical and human toll of Freddy is unavoidable, and the government needs all the assistance it can get to help those affected by this catastrophe.