FLASH floods hit some suburbs in Bulawayo while a number of homes in Matabeleland South succumbed to heavy rains that fell yesterday.
Weather experts warned of more rains accompanied by strong winds leading to flooding in some parts of the country. As the country experiences a tropical storm induced by a downgraded Cyclone Dineo, the Meteorological Service Department (MSD) and the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) issued flood warnings for some areas including Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South and parts of the Midlands province.
In Bulawayo, the Acting Chief Fire Officer Linos Phiri yesterday said some homes in some suburbs including Nkulumane and Emganwini were flooded.
A Chronicle newscrew visited Cowdray suburb where some roads were impassable. Enterprising men started to charge 50 cents to help individuals cross flooded roads.
The area’s councillor Collet Ndlovu said about 50 residents had reported that their houses were flooded by yesterday afternoon.
“I just addressed about 50 residents who said their pre-cast walls had also been damaged by the rain. Some had their household property destroyed due to poor drainage systems around the suburb,” said Clr Ndlovu.
At 8AM yesterday, five vehicles were involved in a pile-up along Plumtree road in Belmont after the car which was in front stopped when visibility was poor due to heavy rains. Two people were reportedly injured.
CPU national deputy director Ms Sibusisiwe Ndlovu said Insiza, uMzingwane and Matobo districts in Matabeleland South and Matabeleland North districts of Nkayi, and Tsholotsho and Gokwe in the Midlands were at high risk of flooding. She said some community dams were bursting.
“Communities in Insiza district must maintain vigilance as all river systems are full and walls of small dams have failed as the district received in excess of 82mm of rain over 24 hours as it continues to rain. Motorists should be on the lookout as most of the bridges are overflowing and the roads are badly damaged. uMzingwane District received an excess of 60mm of rainfall in 24 hours, families need to be on the lookout as most homes are succumbing to excess moisture,” said Ms Ndlovu.
She said villagers who might lose their homes to floods should report to councillors and the police.
“In case your home is damaged or destroyed in rural areas report to your local councillor or police and seek shelter elsewhere. Assistance with tarpaulin (temporary shelter) for those left homeless will be made available at the shortest possible time depending on accessibility,” said Ms Ndlovu.
She said flash floods are expected in Bulawayo and urged residents to approach the city’s emergency department when they are in danger.
“Bulawayo received rains in excess of 59mm in 24 hours and it continues to rain, causing widespread flash floods threatening homes. Residents are advised to call the Fire Brigade on 09-71717-9,” she said.
In Gwanda District in Matabeleland South, pupils were sent home as early as 10AM due to fears of floods following heavy rains that started on Thursday night.
Gwanda District Civil Protection Unit (GDSPU) head who is also the acting District Administrator, Mr Judge Dube, and the Provincial Civil Protection Unit had recommended that children should go home early.
Mtshabezi River was flooded, cutting off people from travelling to either side. In Silonga area there were strong winds, forcing the cancellation of cattle sales.
“We recommended that schools dismiss children early as we assess the situation. If it continues like this until next week we have recommended that they don’t come to school until it passes. We are also warning members of the public to move away from low-lying areas,” said Mr Dube.
He said there were no reports of any damage or distress made so far, but urged those who need help to call the hotline (0284) 20139.
Matabeleland South CPU chairperson Mrs Sithandiwe Ncube said the committee had activated all its arms and was ready to deal with any eventualities.
She said dams in Esigodini, Insiza, and Matobo had started spilling and Wanezi Dam had already started to give in.
Mrs Ncube said they had sent engineers to assess some of the bridges in Nkakezi area and other secondary roads.
“We are on high alert and are ready to evacuate all those people living within low-lying areas within the province. We are monitoring the situation around the clock, so that we are no found wanting and we will continue mobilising resources,” she said.
“We have teams at district level which are busy educating people about the impending disaster and how to handle various eventualities.”
Mrs Ncube said people living in the low-lying areas of Beitbridge were at high risk of floods, as most rivers passed through the district on their way to the Limpopo River.
In Midlands province, the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs, Cde Jason Machaya said the province was on high alert.
“The situation is still under control,” he said.
Cde Machaya urged people in the province to avoid unnecessary movements and crossing flooded rivers.