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Homes completely washed away

Petro and his family have been severely affected by Cyclone Idai.

"The rains were so heavy, there was so much water flooding our house, then it just washed away. Completely washed away. So we had to run. 

At first, I had the fear, the next thing I thought was that we would die because I had to pick up my children on my shoulders. The water was almost at my neck level."

Petro and his family were forced to flee their village in Malawi after Cyclone Idai destroyed their home.

We have supported families like Petro's with tools and materials to help rebuild their lives.

The severe impact of floods

Flooding can be extremely damaging – even life-threatening – for communities that experience it. 

It can flatten or cause severe damages to land, livestock, homes and infrastructure, leaving vast areas uninhabitable and families homeless and vulnerable.  

Rapidly moving water can be extremely powerful and destructive. It can pick up and wash away cars, houses, bridges, and people.  

Even after floodwaters recede, risks still remain. The land is often blanketed in silt and mud.

Water can quickly become contaminated with dangerous materials like untreated sewage, leaving families without safe drinking water.  

Communications go down, roads are blocked, leaving whole communities trapped in inaccessible villages for days - sometimes with no food or water. 

ShelterBox responded in Niger in 2010 when flooding devastated whole communities.

Flooding can also lead to serious water-borne disease outbreaks.

The stagnant water creates a breeding site for mosquitoes, increasing the spread of insect-borne diseases and the risk of deadly outbreaks.

In cyclone-battered Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, families were still struggling with the aftermath of Idai just weeks after it made landfall.

Roads and bridges were ripped apart, homes, schools and buildings were flattened, in what it is believed to be the worst weather-related disaster to ever hit the southern hemisphere. 

Why do floods happen?

Did you know? 90% of all natural disasters are water-related.

ShelterBox responded in Malawi, following severe flooding in 2015.
ShelterBox responded in Malawi, following severe flooding in 2015.

A flood happens when water levels rise suddenly, far more than the ground can absorb. Floods are not easy to predict. 

Heavy rain, rising sea levels, fast-melting snow or even tsunamis and hurricanes can cause severe flooding. 

In southern Africa, flooding has been caused by Cyclone Idai, which made landfall on 14 March, bringing torrential rains and strong winds of over 100mph.  

Downpours had been affecting the region for weeks, causing severe flooding since the beginning of March.

This comes after a period of severe drought, making the conditions for affected communities even worse.