U.N. and international aid agencies are racing to minimize the impact of Tropical Storm Emnati, which is expected to hit eastern Madagascar early Tuesday evening local time.
Emnati is the fourth powerful storm to strike Madagascar in as many weeks. It is likely to have a devastating effect on thousands of people who still are reeling from the impact of Tropical Cyclone Batsirai, which struck central Madagascar on February 5.
Batsirai affected an estimated 270,000 people. The United Nations reports 20,500 homes were destroyed, flooded, or damaged, rendering some 21,000 people homeless.
The World Meteorological Organization predicts Emnati will produce destructive wind speeds of between 150 and 200 kilometers an hour. While this is dangerous, WMO spokeswoman, Clare Nullis says one of the biggest threats is water, the heavy rainfalls that kill.
“You know, there is a risk they will cause flash flooding and landslides in the region. And, as you said, this region has been hit by successive tropical storms. You know, it is flooded. The land is water-logged. It cannot absorb any more water. So, any more rainfall at this stage is just one drop too many,” she said.
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs previously had sent several disaster management experts to Madagascar to respond to Cyclone Batsirai. OCHA spokesman, Jens Laerke, says additional staff from the region is being deployed in the country in anticipation of Emnati.
“We are in a race against time to protect those who dealt with the fury of the first three extreme weather events from the impact of Emnati… The response covers health consultations, distribution of cash and hot meals to displaced families, restoration of access to clean water, and provision of shelter items to support families to return home,” he said.
OCHA is providing $2.5 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund. The money will be used for food and cash assistance, emergency healthcare, shelter, and other essential relief.
The World Food Program also has deployed additional teams to respond to Emnati. The agency says it is providing food rations to more than 3,500 people who have sought refuge ahead of the cyclone.
WFP says information technology experts also have been deployed in the area for immediate intervention.