THE Meteorological Services Department has warned of increased risk of floods in river basins, wetlands and low-lying areas such as Muzarabani and Mbire in Mashonaland Central with the Department of Civil Protection on standby to render emergency assistance.
The Met Department’s Head of Forecasting, Mr James Ngoma, said there was an increased risk of floods in the above areas and the department would continue updating its information.
“We will keep informing the nation as the days draw near. Those areas we have mentioned are all dependent on the amount of rains that would be received prior,” he said.
Flash floods are an annual event and some areas have frequently seen flooding.
For example Muzarabani is a known flood plain and the villagers there have become accustomed to it.
Recently, the Department of Civil Protection chief director Mr Nathan Nkomo said adequate funds to deal with disasters such as flash floods that are associated with the rainy season have been set aside.
Mr Nkomo said a plan was in place to ensure everyone’s safety during this rainy season.
“For Zimbabwe, like any other country in the SADC region, Africa and in the whole world, this is the time when we always prepare for the rainfall season. The rainfall season comes with a lot of challenges, but more importantly, it also comes with a lot of hope because most of our agriculture is rain-fed so we welcome the rainfall season in Zimbabwe.”
“However, in terms of preparedness, we have done our level best. Remember we are preparing to handle natural hazards in the form of flash floods and ultimately, when we get into the cyclone season, mostly from January to March, we will escalate our level of preparedness,” he said.
Local authorities are also urged to clear storm drains to minimise flooding in urban areas.
Last week, 78 families were left homeless after their houses were damaged and flooded by heavy rains in Kadoma. Five schools, including Jameson High School, and some shops were also affected by flash floods. In October, Beitbridge’s Dulivhadzimu suburb was affected by flash floods. This urban flooding was largely due to blocked or damaged drains.
Flooded rivers could also cause danger to life while sudden flooding could lead to difficult driving conditions, clogging of water drains and chances that some communities become cut off by flooded roads and rivers.
Zimbabwe has increasingly seen more severe floods in recent decades.
Tropical Cyclone Idai, the worst in more than 50 years to reach Zimbabwe, brought heavy rainfall and strong winds to Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe between March 5 and 19 in 2019, causing severe flooding which led to loss of lives, destruction of infrastructure, disruption of livelihoods and destruction of crops.
It is estimated that close to 780 000ha of crops in the three countries were destroyed by the cyclone, with the majority of this damage being in Mozambique. Dams and wells were also damaged, and livestock was washed away. SADC launched a US$323 million appeal to support the disaster response and recovery efforts related to the impact of Tropical Cyclone Idai. *Herald*