From the Field

2019 Cyclone Idai: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

Cyclone Idai made landfall in Mozambique March 14 and 15, 2019 as a Category 2 storm. Cyclone Kenneth came ashore in northern Mozambique April 25, 2019, with hurricane-force winds and heavy rains.  The storm arrived only six weeks after Cyclone Idai devastated a broad area of the country about 600 miles south of Cyclone Kenneth’s impact zone. The extent of damage has not been determined, but flooding is expected in coastal areas of northern Mozambique and southern Tanzania.

Jeff Wright, World Vision’s Cyclone Idai response director, says he is concerned about what may happen to children impacted by Cyclone Kenneth. He says, “Cyclone Idai has shown just how vulnerable people are to these kinds of disasters that tear down homes, destroy crops, displace hundreds of thousands of people, and force untold numbers of children out of school that are damaged or that become evacuation centers.”

Flooding in Southern Africa has already affected nearly 3 million people in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe since rains began in early March and Cyclone Idai struck March 14 and 15. The death toll exceeds 843 people.

Idai is the strongest cyclone on record in the Southern Hemisphere. The U.N. children’s agency estimates that 1.5 million children are affected.

A massive relief operation is assisting survivors with food, clean water, shelter, and other basic needs.

Help people affected by Cyclone Idai.

Cyclone Kenneth hits northern Mozambique and southern Tanzania just six weeks after Cyclone Idai
Early on April 25, Cyclone Kenneth is shown passing over the Comoro islands in the Indian Ocean as it approaches the coastlines of southern Tanzania and northern Mozambique.(Map courtesy Pacific Disaster Center)

Cyclones Idai, Kenneth, and Southeast African floods timeline

March 3 – The tropical disturbance that would become Cyclone Idai develops and begins to strengthen near the coast of Africa.

March 5 – Heavy rains cause severe flooding across Mozambique and Malawi.

March 11 – Now a tropical depression, the storm builds in intensity between coastal Africa and Madagascar.

March 14 to 15 – Tropical Cyclone Idai makes landfall near Beira, Mozambique, as a Category 2 storm with sustained winds exceeding 105 mph.

March 20 – Heavy rains continue along with search and rescue operations and damage assessments.

March 21 to 27 – Governments and humanitarian aid agencies begin responding with life-saving relief supplies to the affected areas.

March 28 – The Mozambique government calls off the search for survivors of Cyclone Idai.

April 2Cholera cases in Mozambique top 1,400, according to health officials.

April 25Cyclone Kenneth hits northern Mozambique with winds above 125 mph. The U.N. says 740,000 people are in the storm’s path.

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FAQs: What you need to know about Cyclone Idai

Find answers to frequently asked questions about Cyclone Idai and flooding in Southeast Africa, including how you can help people affected by this disaster.

Where did Cyclone Idai develop?

Cyclone Idai developed in the Mozambique channel between Mozambique and Madagascar. Often, storms that develop there don’t strengthen as much as those that form north and east of Madagascar, but Cyclone Idai was fed by warm water temperatures.


Where and when did Cyclone Idai make landfall?

Starting on the evening of March 14, Cyclone Idai made landfall in Beira, Mozambique, a coastal city of half a million people. The fierce storm pummeled Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe with strong winds and rains.


How much damage did Cyclone Idai cause?

The storm wiped out roads, bridges, and dams as it swept through Southeast Africa. The United Nations estimated that Cyclone Idai and subsequent flooding destroyed more than $1 billion of infrastructure. More than 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, along with at least 1 million acres of crops.


What is Cyclone Idai’s death toll?

The death toll has risen to 843, however, hundreds of people are still missing.


What’s the difference between a hurricane, typhoon, and cyclone?

Hurricanes form in the Atlantic and Caribbean, cyclones in the Indian Ocean, and typhoons in the Asia-Pacific region. Scientifically, they are all known as tropical cyclones.


How have people been affected by cyclone and flooding?

Hundreds of thousands are homeless and displaced. Many people have lost family members and friends and seen their communities devastated. Cases of cholera, malaria, diarrhea, and respiratory infections are increasing due to poor living conditions. In Mozambique alone, health providers have confirmed more than 1,400 new cases of cholera since the cyclone hit.


How can I help people affected by Cyclone Idai?

  • Pray for people who are in need and the aid workers who are bringing relief.
  • Give to World Vision’s Cyclone Idai relief fund.


What is World Vision doing to help people affected by the cyclone and flooding?

World Vision is mounting a disaster response in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, where we already have operated for years.

Our initial focus is on food and nutrition, water and sanitation, household goods and shelter assistance, health, child protection, and education.

Aid is reaching people in need, and more is on the way:

  • Mozambique – Food, water, shelter items, and household goods are being distributed. Children are enjoying play activities in two World Vision Child-Friendly Spaces.
  • Malawi – Food, children’s clothing, and household items are being distributed. More than 90,000 people are benefiting from shelter materials. Nine hospitals received water treatment chemicals. One Child-Friendly Space has been set up where 300 children can play safely and recover.
  • Zimbabwe — Food, household items, and hygiene supplies are being distributed.


Learn more about cyclones, typhoons, and hurricanes — how they form and how to prepare.

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