Jeff Allen's Peace Corps Web Page

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This page is the letter that Jeff sent on: April 21, 2000

Dear World,

It occurs to me that I've done a rather poor job of describing Madagascar and every day life here in m y previous letters, so I will take a new approach. The following statements are all true (as far as I have observed)

22 April 2000

But enough of that. I've just returned from a trip to Antalaha, a town about 180 km from me by road, and I thought you should know about it. You see, Madagascar was just slammed by three cyclones - Eliene, Gloria, and Hudah. Gloria and Hudah both hit my region; and the towns that were damaged the most were Andapa and Antalaha. Andapa is okay, more or less. 99 people died in floods from the first cyclone in the Andapa region. The second one killed almost no one, but ripped a lot of rooves off, almost all of which were nailed back on by the time I got back to town nearly two weeks later (I had been in Tana for a Peace Corps training during the second one). A lot of trees are missing and many of those that are left were stripped bare in the storm, but on the whole, Andapa seems to have rebounded all right and school will reopen after the Easter break as scheduled on Tuesday.

Antalaha is another story. The last cyclone, Hudah, came ashore near Cap-Est, about 50 km south of Antalaha and brutalized an area about 100 km long, from just north of Antalaha, all the way down 50 km south of Cap-Est. I am in Antalaha about two weeks after the cyclone help. My friend and I were stunned by what we saw. Many houses had been destroyed - most wooden or bamboo houses, but even some concrete houses were ripped apart, including a friend of mine's. Apparently, almost all rooves were ripped off by the storm. Many had been partially repaired and people were living in the half rebuilt houses. Due to a lack of metal roofing sheets and nails, many of the rooves were not yet completely fixed. The town of Antalaha appears to be doing relatively alright. There is currently enough food, water and the electricity is mostly back on. The people en brousse- in the rural villages south of Antalaha for 100 km - are in big trouble. Their crops were all destroyed and there is not enough rice anymore. International organizations are distributing rice, but from what I hear, due to distribution problems, and a lack of available rice, there is just not enough food getting to the people en brousse. Many Malagasy houses are made on a wood platform, about 1-2 feet off the ground. I am told that everyone hid under these platforms after their houses were destroyed, during the storm. Amazingly, only a few people died in the cyclones, which brought winds of about 300 kmh. However, the situation is still serious as the people are in danger of running out of food. We'll see how it goes in the next few weeks.




Any questions, comments or concerns should be sent to: Alicia Allen