Opinion: What next after the storm

By Aubrey Kalumpha

The weather department has given it’s final update on Tropical storm Freddy.

Records show that this is the longest ever and of course one of the most devastating cyclones the country has ever recorded.

I remember that I first wrote about cyclone Freddy in early February, since then I was getting in touch with Yobu Kachiwanda, the mouthpiece for the department on the movements of Freddy in the Indian Ocean. 

Evidently, we must give much respect to Lucy Mtilatila, the director for the department, as was/is always handy with information whenever i need/ed an update.

I was also following up with other relevant stakeholders including the disaster management department, whose assurance on preparedness could never be overlooked.

My interest in getting all the updates, was not to show my editor that i was doing my work as i’m expected to, but to understand how prepared we were as a country for the upcoming storm.

Frankly speaking, we were never prepared for the storm. no, we weren’t. I will explain why. 

As I have said, I started writing about Freddy in February.

As a country, we were given over 20+ days of a head start to prevent the loss of many lives we have suffered.

I love watching movies, disaster movies are part of the films I like, so what happens in those movies, say a movie about an earthquake, before the earthquake hits, some scientists come forth with projections of the magnitude the earthquake is going to register.

From such projections, government officials come up with safety measures, their first priority is always the safety of the people.

That’s where evacuation measure come in play.

The thing that I thought just happens in movies also happens in real life.

From the months of august to october, some parts/states in America mostly experience wildfires. 

The areas to be affected, are always evacuated before the disaster hit. 

Now, back home, we have always preached proactive in dealing with disaster related issues, in that case, flooding.

There reached a point when Freddy was making a u-turn back to Mozambique from the Indian Ocean- weather experts, as usual alerted everyone in the country, saying it’s come back was going to be devastating as it’s eye/center/heart would reach Malawi.

The amount of damage projected by the weather department made me to go back to the disaster management department to hear what’s on the table to protect the people.

What I got was, “the department is well prepared as we have in place a special rescue team,” I was not convinced, I thought they were going to say- an evacuation campaign was going to be conducted, but no- the response indicated that they were going to wait for the disaster to hit, after that hit the action button.

Now, I think as a country, it is time we started to think and act like we’re in 2023, I’m sure our government departments are not run by degenerates, who may fail to know the significance of evacuation in preparation for a disaster.

I mean, about 13 districts were enlisted to be in harms-way. as a country, what did we do with that information? we waited- worse still, were those ‘believers’ praying for the cyclone to go away. laughable right.

It’s not the first time for water to gush out of Soche mountain, that was expected with the prolonged rains. and it isn’t the last.

In a civilized country, people residing on the foot of the mountain, are supposed to be evacuated to safety, by any means necessary.

And in a more civilized nation- with laws and by-laws in place, those people residing in such places, would not be there in the first place.

Some of these deaths, could have been avoided.

Once all is said and done, we need as a country to sit down and have that serious discussion on SETTLEMENT and DISASTER PREPAREDNESS.

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