Cyclone Idai created inland oceans and left cities across Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi with more than 750 dead. Mozambique’s former first lady said that Beira “will go down in history as having been the first city to be completely devastated by climate change”. Reports say there are hundreds of bodies alongside a single road as death tolls are expected to continue to increase.The UN has classified the storm as “one of the worst weather-related disasters ever-recorded in Southern Hemisphere” and is now on the same priority level as places such as Yemen and South Sudan.
These floods has systemic ripples years after the initial flooding, from crippled infrastructure to outbreaks in cholera and other waterborne diseases. Mozambique’s fourth largest city will have to be completely rebuilt due to its weak initial infrastructure after receiving a years worth of rain in two days. The flooding comes less than a year after Mozambique’s largest cities we’re forced to start water rationing as early as January due to severe draught and low reserves. These sustained droughts can lead to parched earth which is unable to absorb water quickly, heightening the risk and damage of flash floods. The severity of Beira’s inland flooding hasn’t been see before and experts link this to the increased intensity of storm surges due to rising sea levels. Mozambique is a cruel reminder that the poorest countries are bearing the brunt of the increasingly volatile and powerful weather conditions, and how dangerous it can be as their different symptoms and repercussions begin to compound.