A Toronto charity spent much of Saturday packing emergency kits for those affected by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
GlobalMedic, which works to assist countries in the aftermath of natural disasters, packed around 2,200 emergency kits to send to the two countries.
“Today, we’ve got about 200 volunteers out,” said Rahul Singh, executive director of GlobalMedic.
“You can see many of them are from Zimbabwe and Mozambique. They live here, but that’s their heritage … I think this is the best thing about Toronto and a country like Canada. People are from everywhere, and they pull together in a country’s time of need.”
Cyclone Idai struck the coast of southeast Africa on March 14 and has so far led to at least 600 deaths, though that number is expected to rise significantly.
Heavy rains and strong winds caused flash flooding and a loss of power as well as significant damage to infrastructure.
WATCH: Cyclone Idai leaves hundreds dead in Mozambique
Damage is not limited to Mozambique and Zimbabwe, however those two countries have the highest death tolls in the wake of the cyclone. Malawi has also been significantly impacted by the storm.
“It’s a massive crisis,” Singh said.
“The situation has overwhelmed the local capacity.”
For now, Singh said GlobalMedic’s efforts are focused on Mozambique and Zimbabwe, where there is the biggest need for help.
He said GlobalMedic has teams on the ground in those two countries, and they are finding out what supplies are needed most.
The biggest need right now, Singh said, is clean water, as many of the water systems in the area were polluted by the flooding.
“Those kids are drinking this bad water,” Singh said.
The GlobalMedic kits include water purification systems and hygiene products and will be flown to affected areas as soon as possible.
WATCH: Cyclone Idai — Death toll rises as thousands await rescue
“If we don’t respond and other agencies do not respond, more people die,” Singh said. “It’s as simple as that.”
Herbert Nyathi, the chargé d’affaires for Zimbabwe’s embassy in Canada, was at GlobalMedic as volunteers packed the kits.
“I am humbled and overwhelmed by the sympathy and show of support for the people of Zimbabwe from the people of Canada,” he said. “We are very grateful.”
Nyathi said the situation in his country remains critical as crews continue to search for survivors.
—With files from the Associated Press