Monthly Archives: March 2017

Cyclone Enawo

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

Charles R. Swindoll

On Friday 3rd March, our conversation at the breakfast table revolved about our shopping for the coming week and what we should buy and have for the week. Traditionally, cyclone season runs from about November/ December to March/ April. It has been a very dry summer with what can only be described as fairly settled weather, warm and humid with occasional rain. As we drafted our  shopping list we turned our attention to our emergency supplies cupboard which had about one week worth of shopping and decided we should start tucking into it. We discovered our long life milk which was still in date was well and truly off but the rest was OK. Outside we had a chat with our neighbour about the same subject, the words we used were, it is pretty much safe to say we are fine for this year…..


cyclone enawo

Cyclone Enawo forming over the Indian Ocean

Not even two hours after this conversation had finished, this popped up on Facebook!
Cyclone Enawo began forming earlier in the week and was gathering pace very quickly. Perfect atmospheric conditions fed this storm turning it into a bit of a beast. Cyclones are very unpredictable and while over water move pretty slowly, this one was reportedly moving at between 6 and 9kph while forming. It’s trajectory was expected to first hit Madagascar in the North East, just North of Ile St Marie and work its way along the eastern coastline passing over Tamatave and then head inland towards Antananarivo. We decided to top up our emergency supplies cupboard…..considerably! On Sunday we had a resident’s emergency meeting where we were explained the procedure and different codes as well as how to keep ourselves safe during a cyclone. Basic common sense, secure all outdoor furniture, stay indoors when instructed to do so. We had clode blue warning (be alert), this was upgraded to code yellow by Tuesday (code yellow meaning go out only if necessary, secure all your outdoor furniture, no alcohol!). On the Monday we did even more shopping as every item of news suggested this was going to be a highly destructive cyclone which would be accompanied by abnormal amounts of rain. We now had enough food to last us a month. We were provided with extra water, so we now also had about 100 litres of drinking water as we were expecting water and electricity to go (our compound has a backup generator). Monday evening school decided that for safety reasons, school would be shut on Tuesday and Wednesday. The government raised the level to code red by Monday night (don’t go outside unless your life is in danger indoors!). The region is vast, so even though we were not in the highest risk area, parts of the region were. Within our compound it remained at code yellow.
I went for my usual crazy o’clock gym session on Tuesday at 4:30 am, the air was very still but looking at the trees, it was very windy! Basically, the wind was going up by what I can gather; this was pretty odd.
On Tuesday early morning, all non-essential staff were sent home, drivers, cleaners, gardeners all headed back to their houses to make their own preparations and be with their families. Cyclone Enawo hit the north east of the island on Tuesday morning as an equivalent of a category 4 hurricane (category 5 is the highest!). But at this point we were informed that the predicted trajectory would take it inland and towards the capital, Antananarivo. But Cyclone Enawo, being very wide, it would pretty much encompass much of the country and we would still be hit by it but we wouldn’t be in the epicentre as originally thought.
By Tuesday afternoon the rain was really coming down and the wind picking up, leaves blowing around all over the place with some pretty heavy outbursts of rain and gusts. Little Nomad’s best friend lives next door which meant they kept each other entertained throughout the day. In the evening they had tea together and did some reading and creative work based on the author Holly Webb. We tweeted her what the girls had been up to and were thrilled when Holly replied!

Tuesday night was a long night, it wasn’t as bad as expected, but there were plenty of strange noises which kept waking us up. We have a metal roof above the concrete roof. Our houses in our compound are cyclone proof. Nonetheless, we have several trees around us so little branches and sticks made quite a bit of noise. Throughout the whole build up to Cyclone Enawo and during the storm, our thoughts were with those less fortunate than us whose houses are made out of bamboo with ravanella roofing (ravenella is a typical plant in Madagascar). Particularly those living close to rivers and along the coastline.
Wednesday morning arrived and that’s when it really picked up, torrential rain and very strong winds. Just like on Tuesday, it would rain extremely hard for a short period of time and then ease off, the wind did the same; with the difference being that the rain and wind were stronger and the outbursts lasted longer, much longer! Our shutters were all down throughout the storm, we did have our front door open (we have mosquito netting) so we could keep an eye on what was going on outside. I popped out for a few seconds when the rain had eased off and filmed this from our back porch, the trampoline is being held down by 200 + kg of sand bags!

By late Wednesday evening things started calming down, School announced it would reopen again on Thursday and things for us would start going back to normality.
Thursday morning our driver was outside our house as normal, lots of leaves and small branches across the lawn but other than that, no major issues with our place. We have seen a couple of small trees uprooted but within our compound that’s about it. For people in Toamasina it was a different story as they were without water and electricity, numerous houses and businesses flooded. Those living in low standing areas and by rivers completely flooded. I went for a drive around town and to numerous areas and the damage locally hasn’t been as bad as I and many had feared but nonetheless, there’s considerable widespread damage as you leave town. The RN 2 to Antananarivo was cut off by flood water just a few KM south of Toamasina, I am sure there are numerous other points where the road to Tana has been affected, quite possibly much more than here.
For a full report about Cyclone Enawo, have a look at The  Watchers website. Cyclone Enawo Report
It is being reported that 6 people have lost their lives during the Cyclone, however, due to its severity and so many areas badly affected being hard to get to under normal circumstances, my feeling is that this figure will increase significantly (I hope I am wrong) over the coming days and weeks as damage is assessed. Cyclone Enawo is reportedly the worst storm in 13 years. With so many precarious buildings in dangerous areas such as by rivers and other areas liable to flooding and storm surge it would be nothing short of a miracle if the number of victims doesn’t increas. Current reports state widespread flooding from the North and across the centre of the country including areas close to Antananarivo.
Here are some photos I took on Thursday of the area near us.