Mozambique Red Cross teams have deployed to communities in two southern provinces in the path of massive Cyclone Dineo, which is expected to make landfall later today bringing gale-force winds and heavy rains.

More than 350 Red Cross volunteers and staff have been alerting communities about the storm over the past three days, sharing safety tips and directing them to where they can evacuate and find shelter, according to the Acting Secretary General of the Mozambique Red Cross, Ernestina Jorge Jama.

Some 234,000 in the southern provinces of Gaza and Inhambane provinces in southern Mozambique are projected to be at risk.

“We’re concerned about extensive flooding, given that many of the districts likely to be hit have been inundated by above normal rainfall for the past year and rivers in some areas are already at flood level,” says Jamie Le Sueur, IFRC’s disaster management coordinator for southern Africa. “An advisory has also been issued for a potential storm surge, which could threaten thousands of people in coastal communities.”

Preparing for the worst, the Mozambique Red Cross is coordinating with national and provincial disaster management systems and is ready to distribute pre-positioned stocks of tarps, blankets, buckets, kitchen sets, mosquito nets and shelter tool kits. With support from IFRC and partner National Societies, the local Red Cross is also prepared to deliver emergency water, sanitation, hygiene, health and shelter assistance.

“The storm and the flooding of rivers presents a real risk of damaged and contaminated water sources, so a priority will be to disinfect and treat water and make sure people are not drinking dirty water and getting sick,” says Ms. Jama. “These communities are already extremely vulnerable due to the impacts of prolonged drought.”

After Mozambique, the cyclone is expected to move westward toward South Africa and then Botswana, where Red Cross teams are making contingency plans.