MAF Cyclone Idai Disaster Response

Published: 20 Mar 2019

The Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) team in Mozambique, operating locally as Ambassador Aviation, continues its disaster response work in Mozambique, following the devastating cyclone which made landfall near Beira on Thursday with winds up to 106 mph.

Photos Brad Balin. Copyright Mission Aviation Fellowship. 

MAF is currently operating out of Beira using a Cessna 208 aircraft from the MAF’s Mozambique program, as well as working in partnership with Mercy Air which has brought an AS350 light helicopter from South Africa to provide assistance.

Photos Brad Balin. Copyright Mission Aviation Fellowship.

'It is a heartbreaking situation. There are entire villages that are entirely under water and our survey this morning showed some areas that were dry yesterday under water today.' Jill Holmes   

MAF has been conducting survey flights and working with Mercy Air to deliver food to those stranded by flooding. The flights show widespread flooding and devastation, with people stranded on roofs, tufts of land, and trees.  MAF programme manager there, Jill Holmes, shared the following.

'Yesterday (Tuesday 19 March) we joined with Mercy Air in doing three flights into the area totally cut off from flooding along the Buzi River. We were able to ‘distribute’ about 1,500 Kgs of high-energy biscuits. Distribute means dropping boxes out of the helicopter, sometimes into the water very near a small patch of land, onto a roof of a house, or into trees. The partnership with Mercy Air has been good and they are a great bunch of guys to be working alongside. The food distributed came from WFP (World Food Programme).

Photos Brad Balin. Copyright Mission Aviation Fellowship.

'We were able to ‘distribute’ about 1,500 Kgs of high-energy biscuits - dropping boxes out of the helicopter, into the water near land, onto a roof of a house, or into trees.'Jill Holmes 

'The Ambassador Aviation/MAF Caravan did another much-needed survey with the General Secretary of the INGC (Mozambique disaster response agency) into the hard hit Buzi River area ... The aerial survey done yesterday has literally changed the whole direction of the response here in Mozambique. It showed the government and aid organizations the larger area and people affected and the more critical needs at this time.

'We know there are large groups of people stranded between Beira and Chimoio where the road is cut off (Beira is completely cut off by road). Many people will need supplies and food, but after our survey flight a more dire situation was discovered along the Buzi. People are stuck on roof tops surrounded by kilometers of water and with waters still rising and more rain coming. It is a heartbreaking situation. There are entire villages that are entirely under water and our survey this morning showed some areas that were dry yesterday under water today.

'Tomorrow we have planned more flights with Mercy Air with more food distribution and evacuations as needed. Another possible Caravan survey flight into a different area has been requested. We have also been requested to do a flight for a rotation of search and rescue workers.'

John Woodberry of MAF’s Global Disaster Response Manager shared that at least 84 people have died following Cyclone Idai’s landfall. The President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, has said that he believes the death toll could be higher than 1,000 people, according to media reports. Latest reports estimate that the affected population has risen to 2.5 million people; the extent of the flooding was initially under estimated. MAF’s survey flights are critical and we are receiving many requests from the INGC, the World Food Programme (WFP), and others. Wednesday MAF will do a flight for the BBC to help highlight the urgent needs.

'The aerial survey done yesterday has literally changed the whole direction of the response here in Mozambique. It showed the government and aid organizations the larger area and people affected and the more critical needs at this time.'

Jill Holmes