MADAGASCAR After Haruna hit the nightmare began

 Emergency Response
 8th Mar 2013

Raivo, a 41-year old women with two children, living in the village of Andaboly tells CARE how she experienced cyclone Haruna’s landfall.

“We heard on the radio during the week that a cyclone could hit the Tulear area towards the end of last week. The whole city was without electricity. Everybody had readied themselves because the cyclone could hit at any moment. It eventually arrived on the Friday February 22. There was a great deal of wind and rain all day long. Very soon the trees and palms around our homes were being blown down all over the neighborhoods. The torrential rain began to create huge surges of water in small alleyways.

We got through Friday. The cyclone was how we had imagined it would be. But we thought it would stop there. But it did not.

On Saturday morning, the weather took a turn for the worse. As usual, I had woken up early. Coming out of my front door, I could immediately see that yesterday's rain had left the water coming up to my legs in the courtyard that I share with my neighbors. And we were not the only ones. This was the case all over the neighborhood and the surrounding area of Andaboly. At around 7:30 am, I told my two children to stay on the bed as the water had by then already entered the house. My daughters could have drowned because the water was already up to my hips, and outside the level was much higher. A few minutes later, we learnt that the Fiherena dyke (1 kilometre from Andaboly) had burst. The news spread like wild fire.

Around 8:00am, the water in the house was up to my neck. It was a catastrophe! Everyone was rushing to save their children. It was vital to get out of the house and find a safe place. We all went to the stadium behind our neighborhood and waited on the terraces to see what happened. My neighbor lost her life while rescuing her daughter from the water. She was not found until late in the afternoon on Saturday. We saw our belongings and our animals washed away by the water. We were powerless; but the important thing was that we survived.

We expected the cyclone, but the flooding was a total shock. We have not experienced a disaster like this for a long time. We lost all the possessions in our house. Our furniture is full of mud, and we have nothing to wear. In addition, there is no water and electricity in the whole city. At the moment I am temporarily staying at a friend’s in the city centre. Eleven families are sharing a tiny house because ours are all still uninhabitable... "

Tulear in southwestern Madagascar has not experienced a cyclone as strong as this since 1978. Five days after it hit, the water is receding slowly but families in low-lying neighborhoods are still living in mud. People are still trying to wash and dry their clothes. Rubbish is piling up in every corner of the city despite everyone’s efforts. The risk of an epidemic is the biggest fear at the moment. NGOs are beginning to bring aid and thanks to USAID and DFID CARE could already distribute prepositioned kitchen kit and plastic sheeting to 10,000 people in the districts of Tulear I &II Sakaraha and Morombe.

ABOUT CARE: Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty and providing lifesaving assistance in emergencies. CARE places special focus on working alongside poor girls and women because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to help lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty.

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