Blantyre, Malawi … The name Freddie seems innocent enough. A lot of people refer to a child or adult named Fred as Freddy. But that name will not be seen with favor for a long time in Blantyre, Malawi. Because of its recent holder roads are closed. Electricity is out. Schools are closed. Airline flights have been canceled. Roofs ripped off hospitals. Villages have been washed away. Rain continues. All because of a cyclone named Freddy, reported to have broken records as the longest lasting storm of its kind in the southern hemisphere. This storm has already traveled over 4,000 miles. This could make it the longest running storm in history. At one point its sustained winds reached 160 miles an hour, equal to a Category 5 hurricane. Twenty-four hours after striking Blantyre the storm continues.
According to Bloomberg News, the storm has affected about 10,000 people. Reuters calls it “one of the worst storms every recorded in the southern hemisphere.” The New York Times notes rescue workers are frantically digging through the mud and collapsed buildings trying to save lives. Blantyre is the commercial center of the nation.
The death and destruction were compounded because the storm struck around 2 AM in the night. Malawi’s government has declared a state of emergency. Described as “rare,” “incredible,” and “dangerous,” the people in the affected areas of Malawi will long remember the name Freddy, and not with good feelings. How will we respond?
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