The tale of 11-year-old Elton Chavarre Domingos is just one of the heartbreaking ones told by survivors when Lowvelder joined White River-based Mercy Air in the disaster-stricken area last week. The aid organisation has been flying in medical staff and supplies to the area.
Elton, who is small for his age, bravely told Lowvelder that he had lost his father and was living with his grandmother in Buzi when the cyclone struck.
“It was a huge wave that came over us. I ran with other children and we climbed into the tower, we held on. I stayed there for three days, I had no water or food. I was so hungry and tired, and I was very scared.”
He said after three days, the water began to subside a bit. “We climbed down and went to the school to get help.”
Many were not so lucky. Augusto Pinto said he had climbed the roof of his house and stayed there until he got to safety. “My wife and two children died, they could not get out the house fast enough.”
One of his sons was two years old and the other was 15.
Armando Jose said many people in the town were without food, and most of the homes had collapsed during the storm. “We received tents. We are struggling to rebuild our houses as we have no tools.”
Jose said the town was getting fresh water from a well. “We use cans to fetch the clean water to drink.” But the disaster-stricken town is now riddled with snakes washed up after the floods.
White River resident and nurse Cathy Middleton said they had been in inundated with cases of people being bitten by them.
On Thursday she treated a five-year-old girl for a snake bite. The girl had come to Samaritan Purse’s tented hospital, which was erected after theirs was damaged. “She was playing in her garden when she stepped on the puff adder by accident. It bit her on her leg.”
The family first went to the local traditional healer who tried to scrape the venom out the wound.
“They then walked for eight hours to get to the hospital here. The young girl was in terrible pain. The doctors could see that sepsis had set in, so they said the only way to save her life was for her leg to be amputated.”
As the tented hospital could not perform the procedure there, the girl had to be taken by ambulance to Beira, which was a four-and-a-half-hour drive. “As yet, I don’t know if she survived the journey. I pray she is alive,” Middleton said.
Many of the rescue and aid workers have left the area, but the need for help persists.
While Lowvelder was in the area, helicopters carrying Brazilian rescue team members were still going to the vast area, which measures roughly 600 kilometres long and 120 kilometres wide, which was affected by the cyclone, with some towns still under water.