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thursday, march 28:

'This is the worst flood since 1978, although the population was not so dense then and the loss not so great,' said Colonal Miha from Madagascar's National Bureau for Risk and Disaster Management agency (BNGRC). 'It's hard to imagine the hardship here unless you witness it with your own eyes; we have been barely surviving.'

Miha is talking to a ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) about Cyclone Haruna, a devastating storm that hit isolated parts of southwestern Madagascar in February that caused lives to be lost and has affected almost 18,500 people. When the floodwaters came, many people sought safety in trees and on rooftops as they watched their belongings wash away. Small boats were mobilised to rescue stranded people as part of BNGRC's search and rescue efforts.

'Some people had no time to save any of their worldly possessions; instead they were gone in a matter of minutes,' continued Miha. 'This was the case for families living in the village of Antaravay Salimo. The flood started at 6am and within two hours the entire area was covered in almost two metres of water.'

Twelve-year-old Barthelemy Nasolosoa and his grandmother Mahorosy Limbiko are one family out of thousands who lost everything they owned in the flooding.

Barthelemy is a disabled person who uses a wheelchair. His mother died giving birth to him and the whereabouts of his father is unknown. His grandmother Mahorosy has raised him and continues to care for him. Her livelihood is sewing.

'When the floodwaters hit Barthelemy's house he was unable to move or swim,' said SRT member Peter Pearce (AU). 'He ended up in the water at the mercy of the tsunami-like waves. He would have drowned if his neighbour hadn't rescued him. Everything he and Mahorosy owned was destroyed, including her sewing machine. It's sad to see so much loss and devastation here but Barthelemy is still brilliantly smiling. They can both begin to rebuild their lives now they are safe and warm in a ShelterBox tent.'

Madagascar's desolate landscape and limited road access make it a challenging environment for humanitarian organisations to operate in, as it can be restrictive in transporting aid to those in need in the most hard-to-reach areas.

ShelterBox has previous experience in working in the country having responded to multiple cyclones, which has led to a strong partnership between the charity and BNGRC, who contacted ShelterBox for assistance following Haruna.

'Thanks to our partnership with BNGRC, we have been able to bring shelter and safety to isolated families who had been living under the stars following the disaster,' said Peter. 'BNGRC has helped us with transport in the past to reach the most isolated people and they have helped us this time round to help vulnerable families in need.'

BNGRC continue distributing shelter and other vital aid on behalf of ShelterBox to families who have lost everything in remote areas.


tuesday, march 12:

'It was early, about 6am, when we heard people shouting, ‘The water is coming, the water is coming, the water is coming.' We didn’t realise it would be dangerous for our whole village and family. We stayed for another 30 minutes and then suddenly we were hit by massive waves. It washed away all our goods, belongings and our home. We lost everything. We just ran and swam away from our house with nothing. All we own in the world has gone, washed away.'

Lanorhiy Rasoanantenaina and her family were one of many who lost their homes to Cyclone Haruna in Madagascar's village of Ambosab close to the Fiherenana dyke. The tropical cyclone brought heavy rains that caused the dyke to collapse, which created a tsunami-type flood with millions of tonnes of sand and soil that destroyed all villages in its path.

The Rasoanantenaina family is currently living under a tarpaulin amongst 55 other families in the schoolyard of Ltcee Antaninarehina Infant School.

ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member Peter Pearce (AU) was with Anthony Keating (AU) when they visited the school to carry out a needs assessment:

'On arrival we were overwhelmed by the stale stench in the air of the remnants of what the flood left behind. The school's roof was totally destroyed. We found three families huddled together under one of the tarpaulins, one being the Rasoanantenaina family. Like most of the families here, fishing is their trade.

'We spoke to Avisoa, Lanorhiy's sister, who had a very young baby in her arms called Harina. She was named after Cyclone Haruna and is only four days old. She was heavily pregnant when the storm hit, and I couldn't help but feel admiration for them both with their great strength.'

The SRT is working with in-country contact Madagascar's disaster management agency, BNGRC, to bring emergency shelter and other disaster relief to these displaced families, including the Rasoanantenaina family, who have been relocated to the army base football field in Toliara in the southwest of the island.

Prepositioned ShelterBoxes in Madagascar's Antananarivo are being used which has enabled a rapid response to the shelter needs of these families who have been left with nothing.

On 22 February, Cyclone Haruna struck the southwest region of Madagascar, bringing gusts of wind reaching speeds of over 200 kilometres per hour and heavy rains causing devastating floods.

The category 2 cyclone destroyed nearly 1,500 houses, displacing nearly 10,000 people and flooding more than 2,000 hectares of rice crops, and seriously damaged 7,000 hectares of other agriculture areas.


friday, March 2:


Tropical Cyclone Haruna made landfall over the south-west coast of Madagascar on 22 February 2013 as a powerful Category 2 Tropical Cyclone. Thousands of people have been displaced and crops have been destroyed. A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) is travelling there to assess the need. back