George Maponga in Masvingo and Abigail Mawonde in Harare
The Civil Protection Unit in Masvingo has dispatched district administrators to low-lying parts of the province to sensitise communities in those areas to be on high alert in the wake of warnings by the Meteorological Services Department (MSD) that a tropical cyclone that could induce flooding in some parts of the country was building up in the Mozambican Channel.
A cyclone is normally accompanied by strong winds and heavy rains and the MSD early this week said most parts of Manicaland and Masvingo provinces were likely to receive heavy torrential rainfall starting today, that could precipitate floods.
Masvingo provincial administrator Mr Fungai Mbetsa, who is also the CPU provincial head, yesterday said teams had already been dispatched to warn communities in low-lying and flood-prone areas across the province to be on high alert.
Mr Mbetsa said District Civil Protection Committees had also been activated to make sure that the province was not caught flat-footed in the event of floods.
‘’We held a meeting today (yesterday) where we sensitised all the stakeholders about what needs to be done in the event of flooding caused by a tropical cyclone that was said might affect parts of the country, especially Masvingo Province,’’ he said.
‘’Besides dispatching DAs to warn people in low-lying areas to move to higher ground in the event of floods, we also came up with a response plan to move our people from flood-hit areas to safety.’’
Mr Mbetsa said the Masvingo provincial CPU had identified halls and classrooms where families affected by floods could be moved to.
An appeal had also been already made to the national CPU directorate and non-governmental organisations to assist in the reconstruction of infrastructure such as roads and bridges that were washed away by recent floods in southern parts of Masvingo such as Chiredzi.
‘’We have a situation where, right now, some people from Chiredzi South cannot access northern parts of the district because of a low-lying bridge (Chilonga Bridge along Runde River) that is easily submerged in water after heavy rains,” said Mr Mbetsa.
‘’Some of the NGOs, mainly Care International and Red Cross, have already responded by providing tents and food for families in Chivi and Chiredzi, who were affected by floods that recently hit the province.’’
The CPU headquarters in Harare also warned the public yesterday to be on high alert and take precautions against the tropical cyclone.
“The public must desist from conducting any activities on rivers, near dams and downstream to dams,” said the CPU.
“Children must be supervised at play, on their way to and from school. People should quickly move to higher ground if they notice that their area is becoming flooded. No attempt must be made to venture into flooded rivers.”