Rapid response team assessing needs after deadly cyclone


November 15, 2013

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  • Unprecedented flooding from a tropical cyclone washed out roads, destroyed homes and killed much of the livestock that families in Puntland, Somalia depend on for food and income. Photo: Mercy Corps

The same day that Super Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines, a deadly cyclone hit Somalia's northeastern Puntland coast. Days of torrential rains caused unprecedented flooding in both coastal and pastoral areas.

The government estimates that 140 people have been killed — mostly children and the elderly — and more than 250,000 households affected, losing homes and shelters.

Mercy Corps has mobilized a rapid response team and is working with partners on the ground to assess immediate needs for water, sanitation, food and shelter.

Access to remote coastal villages, however, remains a challenge, since the storm washed away roads and destroyed three major bridges.

Reports of livestock losses — Somali's primary asset and source of food — have been devastating, with as many as 1 million animals lost in the storm surge.

"We are homeless and, worst of all, we do have food to eat...because we lost our livestock," one women, whose home was destroyed, told government officials.

The cyclone and subsequent flooding are a reminder of how increasingly erratic weather patterns are putting the world's most vulnerable people at risk. Just two years ago, Mercy Corps responded to the region's worst drought in 60 years. These extreme events are why we focus on bolstering food security and disaster preparation to help families build their resilience to disasters.