Teams on foot and in helicopters are assessing the damage done Monday in Madagascar by Cyclone Bingiza, a category 3 tropical storm. It may be a few days before the full extent of the damage is known, but there’s concern that prime agricultural land may have been hit hard.
John Uniack Davis, country director in Madagascar for CARE International, says, “The cyclone hit at 6 o’clock in the morning yesterday…. It’s a pretty strong storm. It first hit at the southern tip of the Masoala Peninsula, which is a remote area with some of the densest tropical forests in Madagascar.”
Initial reports say a small village there was destroyed. No word on casualties there or elsewhere in the country. Masoala National Park in the northeast is a large protected area with about 2300 square kilometers of rainforest. It’s described as sparsely populated.
“[The storm] didn’t lose any force because it was still mostly over water in northeast Madagascar. And it came back and it apparently hit land a second time about 30 to 40 kilometers next to the district center of Manana.
Uniack Davis says most of the information is anecdotal at this point.
“The national disaster risk management agency, along with Care’s emergency coordinator and personnel from…Food for Peace Consortium are doing helicopter over flights (of) the areas in and near the path of the cyclone, trying to get a sense of the percentage of structures that are damaged, the level of damage to the structures,” he says.
Most of the dwellings, he says, are made from traditional material that cannot stand the force of the cyclone.
“And then also look at administrative infrastructure – hospitals, schools and the like and how much they’re affected,” he says. The economic effects of the storm are also being assessed, especially the agricultural sector.
“The area that was hit on the northeast coast is the main cash crop-producing area with coffee, cloves and vanilla bean,” he says.
Assessment teams are expected to spend the night in the port of Antalaha, before heading inland Wednesday.