Cyclone Freddy: Malawian Musician Survives Floods by Climbing Mango Tree

Cyclone Freddy: Malawian Musician Survives Floods by Climbing Mango Tree

The devastating floods caused by Cyclone Freddy, the longest cyclone on record, have claimed at least 220 lives in Malawi, leaving thousands of people homeless. The floods have also hit Madagascar and Mozambique. The disaster has left many people with nothing but their lives and the clothes on their backs. The situation has been particularly difficult for Malawian musician Giboh Pearson and Watson Kapalamula and his children, who survived the floods by taking refuge in trees.

Pearson, who lives in Bokosi village in the Phalombe district, woke up to find his mattress floating in water. He quickly realized that his house was filling up with water and that he and his neighbors had to find a way to escape the rising floodwaters. Together with about 14 other people, they climbed into mango trees and stayed there for two and a half hours until the waters calmed down. Pearson lost all his belongings, including his recording equipment, but he feels grateful that he and his community survived by taking refuge in the trees.

Kapalamula, who lives in Chemusa township in Blantyre, has a similar story. He was in his house with his two small children when the floodwaters swept them away. Fortunately, they were caught in the branches of a big fig tree about 50 meters from their house. Kapalamula believes that if it had not been for the tree, he and his children would have been dead. He is now left with nothing, having lost his home and the equipment from his barber shop.

These stories highlight the importance of trees in protecting people during natural disasters. Pearson and Kapalamula both credit the trees with saving their lives, and they are not alone. Trees play a vital role in mitigating the impact of natural disasters, especially floods. They absorb water, stabilize soil, and reduce the risk of landslides. Trees also provide a natural barrier that can protect people and their homes from strong winds and water currents.

The floods caused by Cyclone Freddy have affected several districts in Malawi, including Blantyre, Chiradzulu, Chikwawa, Mulanje, Mwanza, Neno, Nsanje, Thyolo, Phalombe, and Zomba. The situation is dire, and a state of disaster has been declared. Aid, including aid from the United Nations, will be channeled to those affected. The Ministry of Finance has transferred 1.6-billion kwacha (about R28-million) to disaster management to help victims.

In conclusion, the floods caused by Cyclone Freddy have left a trail of destruction in Malawi. Many people have lost their lives, homes, and livelihoods. The stories of Pearson and Kapalamula remind us of the importance of trees in protecting people during natural disasters. Trees are a natural defense mechanism that can help mitigate the impact of floods and other disasters. It is crucial to recognize the role of trees in disaster management and to prioritize their protection to ensure that communities are more resilient to natural disasters.

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