Heavy rains associated with Cyclone Gombe are causing flooding in the port city of Beira, in the central Mozambican province of Sofala, which was severely hit three years ago by the deadly Cyclone Idai.
Torrential rains have been falling since Wednesday night forcing families to leave their homes, making roads impassable and cutting off power supplies.
“My family spent the night from Wednesday to Thursday on top of the table,” Edson Machaude, 37, a resident of the Manga neighbourhood, said on Friday. “It rained so much that the water reached waist level,” he added.
On Thursday morning, Machauade removed some possessions from the house, and moved to a relative’s home that was not so badly hit.
“I was lucky, but there are some who right now have nowhere to go and are still in the middle of the water,” he said, adding that the intensity of the rain surprised everyone.
Cyclones and other extreme weather events are becoming frequent in Mozambique as an effect of climate change.
A warning from Mozambique’s meteorological institute, INAM, predicted rainfall of between 30 and 50 millimetres in the city of Beira on Wednesday, but rainfall observation there detected an average of 214mm, Beira mayor Albano Carige told Zitamar on Friday.
From Thursday to Friday 221mm were recorded, which over the two days totals more than 400mm.
“We used to record that amount in a year,” he said. “But this time we only recorded it in two days,” he added.
In addition to the intense rainfall, flooding in the city has been aggravated by the disorderly construction of houses, and the filling of drainage ditches with litter.
Very preliminary data, Carige said, indicate that around 500 people or 102 families are severely affected. Three reception centres have been set up to accommodate them.
About 12,000 inhabitants in Nhangau, near Beira, are now unreachable after the road linking them to the city of Beira was cut off, Carige said.
Gombe hit Mozambique in the early hours of 11 March causing considerable damage in Nampula and Zambezia Province, including more than 50 deaths, and by the afternoon of the same day it had weakened and turned into a tropical depression.
On 13 March, the phenomenon weakened and returned to the sea where it turned into a low pressure system that has returned to the mainland with heavy rains accompanied by moderate winds and thunderstorms, mainly in central Mozambique. For this Friday and Saturday, more heavy rain is forecast.
In Zambezia province over 2,000 houses are flooded and 15 temporary centres have been set up to shelter displaced families, provincial governor Pio Matos told the press on Thursday.
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