Museum of Idaho cancels Africa trip in the wake of natural disaster

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IDAHO FALLS — The Museum of Idaho is going to have to wait a little bit longer to bring Idaho to one particular area of the world.

A safari to Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique the museum was planning to sponsor this coming August has been canceled after a massive cyclone devastated areas surrounding the park in March. The storm, named Tropical Cyclone Idai, had killed 598 people and destroyed or damaged over 198,000 homes, according to the Reliefweb website.

“The (United Nations) has called it possibly the worst natural disaster ever to hit the Southern Hemisphere,” museum spokesperson Jeff Carr told EastIdahoNews.com “That was followed by several days of flooding throughout the whole region.”

Carr said the region surrounding Gorongosa was hit hard and sustained significant damage, but the park itself weathered the cyclone reasonably well. Many areas in and around the park suffer predictable flooding every year and inhabitants of those areas know how to deal with flooding.

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“Most of the animals were able to get to higher ground,” he said. “But the whole region is just one massive relief effort and the park has turned all its resources to helping people out.”

Carr said the park is surrounded by many square miles of residential areas that found themselves underwater in the wake of Idai. Many homes have been washed away and the people of the area are struggling to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and homes. Such conditions bring with them desperation and the possibility of disease and danger to travelers.

“We at the museum decided that while so many people are dealing with all that, now is not the right time to be planning safaris,” said Carr. “We decided we wanted to give them space and let them get all that sorted out, so we canceled the trip and refunded everyone’s money.”

Gorongosa is located in an area of Africa that has only recently been getting back on its feet after decades of civil war. Carr said it’s hard to know how much of a setback Idai will be to the progress in Mozambique.

“People who are impoverished and live in areas with poor infrastructure are affected more severely by disasters like this,” he said. “I don’t know if that means they’ll be able to regain their upward trajectory soon, because they were moving in the right direction, but getting massive relief efforts to areas this remote is just hard to do.”

The Idai relief effort is a collaboration between people and organizations the world over. Carr said that organizations like The Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders have been involved in recovery efforts from very early on and suspects that more groups have recently gone to help out.

“There’s a lot of attention turned on it,” he said. “Initially when it hit, people didn’t know how widespread the damage was going to be. Once the Red Cross got down there and got set up, they realized the problem was far worse than they had originally thought, so tripled the amount of resources they were sending there.”

More money and resources are still needed for the recovery in Mozambique. If you’d like to contribute, you can do so through entities like the Red Cross. Gorongosa National Park is also accepting donations through its website. Click here to visit the site.

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