Government declares floods a national state of disaster

The national disaster management centre has received reports ranging from flooded homes, vehicles swept away by floodwaters and overflowing dams while farmers have lost crops and livestock

13 February 2023 - 20:39
By Rorisang Kgosana
Heavy rains flooded the town of Mkhuze in northern KwaZulu-Natal on Friday.
Image: Supplied Heavy rains flooded the town of Mkhuze in northern KwaZulu-Natal on Friday.

Government has declared a national state of disaster after floods that affected large parts of the country.

Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said the announcement is to enable an intensive co-ordinated response to the affected provinces.

It means members of the police service and the defence force may be required to play a role in response to the floods, Magwenya said.

“The national disaster management centre has received reports ranging from flooded homes, vehicles swept away by floodwaters and overflowing dams and sewerage facilities, to the loss of basic infrastructure and damage to roads, bridges and a Limpopo hospital.”

The minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs may declare a national disaster should a disastrous event happen or threaten to happen in more than one province.

This is in terms of the Disaster Management Act as Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Northern Cape and North West suffered floods and heavy rainfall in the past week.

Section 23 of the Act classified the impact of current and above-normal rainfall in various parts of the country as a national disaster.

“In agriculture, farmers have suffered crop and livestock losses, and anticipate further losses as the South African Weather Service predicts heavy rain will persist,” he said.

The service announced on Monday heavy rainfall and flooding is expected to continue this week. Gauteng and parts of the North West are predicted to be hit hard by the wet weather on Thursday.

An accumulated 100mm to 200mm of rainfall is predicted for Mpumalanga and Limpopo on Monday and Tuesday.

“These conditions have been brought on by the La Niña global weather phenomenon which occurs in the Pacific Ocean but impacts on a country such as South Africa with above-normal rainfall. The presence of à La Niña event usually has its strongest impact on rainfall during the midsummer months.

Mapaseka Thabeng and most residents of Carousel View and surrounding areas are sleeping inside water-damaged houses due to the Wednesday floods.
Image: Shonisani Tshikalange Mapaseka Thabeng and most residents of Carousel View and surrounding areas are sleeping inside water-damaged houses due to the Wednesday floods.

“With the continued strengthening of the La Niña event, the country can expect above-normal rainfall and below-normal temperatures over the summer rainfall areas,” Magwenya said.

This means temporary shelters, food and blankets will be in demand by families, individuals and the large-scale and costly rehabilitation of infrastructure, he said.

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Management Centre will continue to monitor and co-ordinate response and recovery measures. This includes the release of early warnings on the weather forecast, Magwenya said.

“President Ramaphosa’s thoughts are with the affected communities across the country and the president appreciates the way in which entities of government, NGOs and community-based structures have responded to date,” he said.

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