World·Photos

See the damage done by 2 powerful cyclones in Mozambique

On a Thursday in late April, a powerful tropical storm slammed northern Mozambique. The storm — the second to hit the African nation in just six weeks —caused massive flooding, displaced thousands and left many families in desperate need of food and shelter.

Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Kenneth struck the country just 6 weeks apart

Residents look at a road that collapsed in the aftermath of Cyclone Kenneth, at Wimbe village in Pemba, Mozambique. Kenneth is the strongest tropical storm on record to hit the African nation. (Mike Hutchings/Reuters)

In late April, a powerful tropical storm slammed northern Mozambique. The storm — the second to hit the African nation in just six weeks — caused massive flooding, displaced thousands and left many families in desperate need of food and shelter.

When Cyclone Kenneth made landfall on April 25, Mozambique was still dealing with the impact of Cyclone Idai, which hit the centre of the country in mid-March.

Idai killed more than 700 people in Mozambique alone and left an estimated 1.8 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Kenneth brought another wave of damage and more than 40 additional deaths.

Storm-ravaged communities

Mozambique wasn't the only country affected by Idai. These timber workers were left stranded in eastern Zimbabwe on March 18 after the storm hit. It tore through communities and left infrastructure — including this road — in shambles.

(Zinyange Auntony/AFP/Getty Images}

In Buzi, a community in central Mozambique, the flooding was staggering after Idai.

High water levels, heavy rain and damaged road networks made it hard for aid agencies to reach and help survivors. In the early days after the storm, humanitarian groups and government officials struggled to even get a sense of the need.  Homes were shattered and neighbourhoods were inundated, leaving many with nowhere to turn.

(Adrien Barbier/AFP/Getty Images)
(Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)
(Stephanie Jenzer/CBC)

In Beira, a coastal city of about 500,000, buildings crumbled. Food shortages were immediate. With potable water in short supply, warnings were issued about a potential cholera outbreak.

CBC's Nahlah Ayed and Stephanie Jenzer surveyed the damage from above not long after the storm.

A UN humanitarian agency reported that Idai left parts of Beira under 10 metres of water. The city had invested in a major drainage system, but it couldn't cope with the force of Idai, which brought an onslaught of water along with extremely high winds. 

Mayor Daviz Simango told NPR in April that the city was set up to have some resilience to flooding. The wind damaged everything from homes to hospitals, along with infrastructure designed to protect the coast, he told All Things Considered host Ari Shapiro.

(Stephanie Jenzer/CBC)
(Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)
(Themba Hadebe/Associated Press)

By the end of March and into April, aid agencies were making progress in Beira, setting up health centres and temporary shelters.

(Mike Hutchings/Reuters)
(Mike Hutchings/Reuters)

Cleanup and relief efforts were underway when forecasters issued a warning: another storm was heading toward Mozambique.

Cyclone Kenneth

Kenneth formed over the Indian Ocean and quickly gathered strength as it moved over warm water. 

After the storm hit on April 25, the World Meteorological Organization noted that there is "no record of two storms of such intensity striking Mozambique in the same season."

In the days after the storm, aid groups again struggled to get help to people who needed it. UNICEF reported that Kenneth had destroyed up to 90 per cent of the homes in some communities.

"The soil is saturated with rain and the rivers are already swollen, so the emergency is likely to get worse from flooding in the next few days," Michel Le Pechoux, UNICEF deputy representative in Mozambique, said in a statement released not long after the storm hit.

In Pemba, an oceanfront community in the north of the country, the situation was dire.

These photos from late April show emergency workers trying to help survivors in that community, where people were forced to wade through flooded streets.

(Mike Hutchings/Reuters)
(Mike Hutchings/Reuters)
(Mike Hutchings/Reuters)
(Mike Hutchings/Reuters)

This village to the north of Pemba was almost completely ruined by Kenneth, which roared in with average winds of 185 km/h and gusts of up to 270 km/h, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

(Mike Hutchings/Reuters)

In early May, aid agencies were again issuing health warnings. Cholera was now an issue in the north, where more than a dozen cases had been detected — most of them around Pemba.

Dr. Djamila Cabral, a WHO representative, said in a statement that the response to cholera risks in central Mozambique had been "incredibly quick" after Idai.

After Kenneth, Cabral struck a hopeful tone.

"There is still time to manage the risk of cholera, but we need to act now."

With files from CBC's Jennifer Walter, The Associated Press and Reuters