On Monday morning, August 31, a hurricane swept through the islands of Cape Verde. On our project island, Boavista, the storm brought strong winds and heavy rainfall, causing major damage. The airport had to be closed, electricity and internet went down, trees were uprooted and roofs were blown off. As far as we know, fortunately, no people were harmed.
Since the internet connection was up and running again the next day, Tuesday September 1, we were able catch up with our team on Boavista. It was a big relief to hear that all staff and volunteers are well and safe!
Our colleagues Red Hallsworth and Ukie Resende reported over Skype:
Our colleagues Red Hallsworth and Ukie Resende reportet over Skype:
„There was no warning that the storm would develop into a hurricane. Stormy weather and heavy rainfall are normal for this time of the year on Boavista. On Monday morning at 9 a.m. we left our headquarter in Sal Rei for a routine delivery of food supplies to the Lacacão camp. On the way it became clear that this was not a normal storm. A river that hardly has running water most of the year had become impassable. Several vehicles were waiting there because the drivers were undecided whether they should dare to cross. The wind was so strong that the vehicles were pushed further. We broke off the attempt to get through to Lacacão in the south of the island.
The Boa Esperança camp on the north coast, which has mobile coverage, was the first to inform us that the situation was under control. The team wanted to stay and wait. But around noon the camp coordinators called again and asked to be evacuated, because the central kitchen and lounge tent had collapsed. We picked up the crew from the beach and brought everybody to Sal Rei.
For the team in Lacacão it was more difficult. In the south, the storm was raging more fiercely. There is no cell phone connection in Lacacão, and therefore we did not know if the team was safe. Once the storm had passed its peak, in the afternoon we tried again to drive to Lacacão. As a precaution, we had the pick-up packed with food, drinking water, cooking utensils, mattresses, towels and dry clothing.
This time we made it through. The twenty staff and volunteers had left the camp in the morning, after the tents were shredded and swept away by the wind. They walked to a nearby farmhouse, but could not proceed from there, because here a raging river had formed, too. We were then able to bring the drenched but uninjured group over the river with the pick-up.
The Hotel Riu Touareg, which is not far from the Lacacão camp, has a large desalination plant. There is a large room where the group could be accommodated temporarily. There they spent the night from Monday to Tuesday. All were exhausted and soaked, but in good spirits. The team stayed strong, and nobody was panicking.”