Lamego has already turned its attention to rebuilding. Once the waters started to recede, people walked about picking up scattered zinc roofing sheets to reconstruct shelters. At least 12 families collected some of the eucalyptus poles the storm pulled down in the Koehns’ yard.
Robert said he sees resilience across his community, where people say, “Lamego is different now, but let’s go forward.”
IN THE PREVIOUS DISASTER that struck Mozambique in February 2000, Cyclone Eline displaced about 650,000 people. The ordeal drew global attention after news outlets filmed an air force medic assisting one woman as she gave birth on a tree, where she sought refuge.
Ken Isaacs, vice president of programs and government relations at Samaritan’s Purse, said it took three to five years for a new normal to return to the country.
His group assisted in rebuilding roads and cities and distributed agricultural produce, mostly through a food-for-work program. This time around, Samaritan’s Purse also set up an emergency field hospital with a special obstetrics section in the town of Buzi.
Isaacs sees similarities in the scale of the current disaster. Mozambique still suffers from poverty and corruption. This time, the country has developed a stronger capacity to respond, he explained.
“The first goal is to get the people stabilized so their lives are not at risk,” he said. “We need to see what [Mozambican authorities] are asking for and how they want to effect these rebuilding efforts in the country.”
In Zimbabwe’s worst-hit Chimanimani district, the cyclone destroyed about 95 percent of road networks, said Nicholas Shamano, the country director with Christian Aid. As rescuers cleared paths to access blocked-off areas, rainfall muddied some of the new routes.
The storm displaced at least 16,000 households, and more than 250,000 people needed some form of assistance.