Cyclone Nargis - The Aftermath

2007/08 Asia Trip Itinerary | Home Page 9 of 9 | Page Up 
Cyclone Nargis named with the Urdu word for daffodil was a rare, eastward moving at low-latitude tropical cyclone that caused the worst natural disaster in the recorded history of Myanmar. The cyclone made landfall in Myanmar on Friday, 2 May 2008, sending a storm surge 40 kilometres up the densely populated Irrawaddy delta , causing catastrophic destruction. The Junta capped the official death count at 138,000 fatalities for fear of criticism of the regime. Damages of (US$10 billion), made it the most damaging cyclone ever recorded in the region.

Letter and Photos from Joytish

"Hello Friends
Internet wasn't working for a couple of days and electricity isn't available nor will it be for a good while. There is lack of water for drinking, bathing etc, in the case of the school we are fortunate to have a water filter and a diesel engine with enough fuel to supply for cooking and drinking. Also we have a treadle pump by the dug well which enables people to take a bath and wash clothes. Many people carry water from afar and boiling water is increasingly difficult with the rain soaking the environment and the markets short of supplies, and of course no electricity is available."

 The pump was still working post Nargis

Thankfully the water filtration system Tony installed was still operational along with the diesel engine, trolley and treadle pump

"In Thanlyin our daycare school that was opened in January this year was completely demolished and our kitchen was also thoroughly blown apart. The only building which remains is our wooden preschool. I was staying in the school on the night of the cyclone.  The howling went on all night and the force increased around break of dawn.  I could barely make my way out but realized the need for securing cooking possibilities and rescued the stove and gas cylinder to cook in the preschool which now also house our daycare children. Five families sleep in the school since their houses have been destroyed and we provide food to them as well as all children in daycare. Other village children from families in extreme need come twice a day for a meal."

All that remains of the Daycare Centre

"Ayawaddy division and Yangon are among the hardest hit areas and these are also the areas that produce most of the rice in Myanmar. The crops in the paddy fields have gone - lost. And prices already soaring in the markets might continue to be shockingly high creating need for further feeding initiatives. The price of rice has risen drastically, reportedly up to 3 times the normal price and the local markets are running out of stock. The first thing I did after the winds had calmed down was to pull a trolley to the local market two bus stops down the road in order to bring some emergency provisions back to school.

Every 50 meters fallen trees blocked the road and no transport could use the roads for several days, still transport is comparatively limited in many parts of the suburbs of Yangon, fuel is costly and supplies are scarce. Thick trees, traffic lights, roofing materials, broken walls and fallen signboards still obstructed the way when I made it in to Yangon several days after the cyclone passed. And people still lack water and electricity. Without electricity they cannot pump water. Some diesel engines are pulled around on carts to be used for pumping water by households paying for the service. From ground level people hand buckets up the stairways to their apartments. Prices on roofing, nails and other construction materials have gone up considerably."

Uprooted trees making getting around almost impossible

"Incidentally I was in the school at the time of the cyclone; otherwise it wouldn't have been possible for me to reach there by any means of transport. Nobody here was prepared since information on the calibre of the approaching winds hadn't been available. The destruction has been massive.  Enormous trees of 200 years or more are witnesses that this was an incident without a second in the recent history of Myanmar.  Lacking any good source of information it is difficult to get an overview of the disaster but in the villages around Thanlyin about 80% of the houses have been damaged and 50% severely broken or completely demolished.

Walking in the debris of the villages 4 days ago we took another 7 children below 2.5 years into immediate care in our school, providing medicines, food and a safe space while their parents try to patch together something of a home to shelter them from the rains. And naturally there are more children to respond to, we look to the youngest first and those without enough parental support or those in ill health. We will make efforts to continue to keep these children in our daycare since we understand that their families had a hard time making a living already before the cyclone struck and now conditions are even worse. We hope to receive enough support to reconstruct the daycare school and to help the most needy families in our area to rebuild their homes.
With many thanks for your interest and support."

Jyotish Nordstrom, Growing Together Myanmar


He made no mention of my school in Thaketa but when I finally reached Sparrow she assured me the school suffered no damage and all our children were safe and well.


2007/08 Asia Trip Itinerary | Home Page 9 of 9 | Page Up