Zimbabwe’s Meteorological Department has warned of potential floods in five of the country’s 10 provinces over the next two days.
The department says it expects the heavy rains received around the country from this Saturday to continue until Tuesday.
“Heavy rains are expected in Manicaland, Masvingo, Matabeleland, Midlands and all Mashonaland provinces from 14 to 17 January with high risk of flooding,” the department said in a text message sent to Econet subscribers at the weekend.
Areas such as Gutu, Guruve, Mt Darwin, Norton, Marange, Buhera, Mutasa, Bulilima, Mangwe and Victoria Falls have already been hit by flash floods.
Despite being one of the severely under-resourced departments in the country, the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) was quoted in media saying it has been meeting the needs of the affected communities.
“Civil protection structures are responding in the different parts of the country. Assistance such as tents, clothing and other items are being provided on a need basis,” CPU director Sibusisiwe Ndlovu said recently.
“All civil protection structures are on alert. The department is constantly advising the public through radio and television adverts. Pamphlets are also being distributed with precautions.”
After suffering a severe El-Nino induced drought which left over 4 million of food aid last year, the country is expecting a bumper harvest this year—although it has come with its own disasters.
Apart from financial constraints faced by CPU when reacting to such hazards, the country’s vulnerability to flush floods has been increased by the absence of quality water drainage infrastructure, wetlands destruction, poor mining practices and in some instances haphazard agricultural activities.
“Be especially cautions at night when it’s harder to recognize flood dangers. In case of severe thunderstorms, if outdoors, seek shelter immediately but not under a tree on in isolated sheds,” said the Met department in a recent flood alert.
Meanwhile, Harare City Council has teamed up with the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society to evacuate and provide emergency shelter for at least 30 families displaced by flooding in Budiriro 5 Extension.
Council spokesperson, Michael Chideme said the most affected families were those with homes built close to Marimba River, which had burst its banks following incessant rains at the weekend.
“Marimba River burst its banks owing to the incessant rains and 30 families had to be evacuated because their homes are now immersed in water. We have had help from Red Cross, which has provided tents for the makeshift shelter,” he said.
Chideme said council has opened investigations on how the families, who are members of Common Vision Housing Co-operative, ended up being allocated stands on the banks of the river.
“Harare City Council is investigating circumstances that led to the allocation of residential stands 50 metres from Marimba River. The investigations will ascertain the authenticity of the layout plan and whether the affected stands are within the approved plan,” he said.
Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni visited the affected families on Saturday to assess the extent of the damage, where he said the local authority would only provide the way forward after completing its investigations.
NewsDay could not reach the affected homes, as the foot bridge, which connects Budiriro 5 Extension and the rest of the city was submerged in water.
Meanwhile, members of the police sub aqua unit were yesterday dispatched to the area to search for an 18-year-old Mufakose resident feared to have been swept away by the floods.
Chief police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said she had not yet been briefed about the incident.