Heavy rains kills 117 left thousands homeless

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Rains that hit the country in recent months, including the downgraded Cyclone Dineo, left at least 117 people dead and 106 others injured by lightning, the Department of Civil Protection (DCP) has said.

More than 1 930 houses and huts were damaged countrywide, leaving 635 families homeless.PICTURES: FLOODING IN TSHOLOTSHO

The incessant rains also damaged 71 schools and five health institutions, while 71 dams had their walls breached and several roads and bridges washed away.

Livestock like cattle, goats, donkeys and chickens, and crops were also washed away.

DCP deputy director Mrs Sibusisiwe Ndlovu said yesterday that they would soon embark on an exercise to draw up mitigation measures to reduce flooding and its effects in future.

“We are planning to have a flood plain management framework in place very soon, which will guide prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response and early recovery with regards to the flood hazard,” she said.

“The framework will be derived primarily from the flood study, but also lessons gleaned from Cyclone Eline disaster (in 2000), Tokwe Mukosi Dam disaster, and also lessons of the current season.”

Mrs Ndlovu said according to the flood risk study conducted by DCP last year, 92 percent of the country was at low risk of flooding.

She said most of the emergencies that emerged could be mitigated through measures such as appropriate land use planning and appropriate building designs.

Mrs Ndlovu said according to the study, Gwayi, Mzingwane and Sanyati dams were always at risk of flooding.

Flooding in Gwayi affected the Sipepa area in Tsholotsho District, with nearly 1 000 people, including children and the elderly, being displaced.

“Tsholotsho is arguably the most severely affected district in the country to date,” said Mrs Ndlovu.

She said Government had responded to the crisis in Tsholotsho and in other affected areas by providing basic needs such as food, water and sanitation, shelter and protection, health services and continuity of schooling.

In Lupane District, lions, zebras and buffaloes were being spotted near homes, as they fled from flooding.

The trail of destruction left four bridges – Mwanezi, Chingezi, Zverenje and Tandavari – extensively damaged in Mberengwa district in the Midlands province, while a number of power pylons were destroyed.

There were disruptions of water supply at Mwanezi Clinic, Jeka Rural Hospital and Chizungu and Chegato high schools in the area.

“The province is still counting the costs of the cyclone, but as we speak, one person lost his life, while attempting to cross a flooded river,” said Minister of State for Provincial Affairs in Midlands Cde Jason Machaya.

Gokwe South district administrator Mr Edwin Mashindi said the community was in need of clothes, blankets, water treatment tablets, kitchen utensils, books and short season maize seed varieties.

He said some 750 kilogrammes of planted maize seed was destroyed, adding that 86 goats and 165 chickens were swept away.

In Masvingo, the heavy rains saw some villagers being marooned in areas such as Nyikavanhu and southern parts of Chivi.

In Chiredzi district, villagers have been cut off after the flooded Runde River submerged vital link bridges at Chilonga and Chingwizi. Authorities have since warned of more floods in the area.

Beitbridge district administrator, Mrs Kiliboni Ndou, said people living near the Limpopo and Shashe rivers remained at high risk.

“You will note that the rains have also rendered secondary roads inaccessible and this is also affecting the grain distribution programme,” she said.

“Major roads leading to Bulawayo and Harare were also damaged.”

In Mashonaland West province, at least 23 families were left homeless in a hailstorm that destroyed 56 houses, leading to the death of an infant.

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