Heavy rains damage infrastructure Ward 15 Councillor Rueben Mbedzi assesses the damage to a property destroyed by a storm that pounded Beitbridge in the last three days. — Picture: Thupeyo Muleya

Herald Reporters

The above normal rains have damaged some roads and bridges after two recent tropical storms in central and southern Manicaland.

Manicaland has borne the brunt of tropical storms with Chalane passing through the province last month while Eloise wreaked havoc last week. 

While neither storm caused fatalities or injuries, there was some damage to houses and Eloise caused damages to school buildings.

Provincial Civil Protection Committee chairperson and Manicaland Development Coordinator Mr Edgars Seenza said Civil Protection Committee teams were still on the ground assessing the aftermath of Eloise but by Sunday damage reports had been limited to 13 houses and some classroom blocks in Chipinge, Chimanimani, Buhera and Mutasa districts.

“We are receiving information from district teams that are on the ground assessing the damages that were caused by the tropical storm. So far, we have two classroom blocks at Mt Selinda and St Albany Secondary Schools, whose roofs were blown off. District Development Coordinators are still compiling more on schools that might have been affected,” he said. 

He said about 10 houses were destroyed in Chipinge while two were reported in Buhera and one in Mutasa. Some of the houses lost their roofs while others just collapsed.

“On roads, we received reports of damages done by Tropical Storm Chalane but we are yet to receive reports on damages caused by Tropical Storm Eloise. We will know if there was any damage once reports from DDCs start coming in,” he said.

Mr Seenza said evaluation of the extent of the damage and an assessment of the affected families’ needs which will determine the type of assistance to be given were underway. 

“Where there is urgent need to provide food, we are in constant touch with the Department of Social Development who will step in to assist,” he said.

The heavy rains being experienced have brought reports of damage, lightning strikes and flash floods in other districts, typical of Zimbabwe in above-normal seasons.

One person was killed and five hospitalised in Makonde District, after having been struck by lighting while damage to infrastructure has also been reported. 

Makonde District Development Coordinator and Civil Protection Unit chairperson, Mr Benjamin Zivanai said some crops were severely damaged when flash floods carved gullies and deposited silt. Gudubu Clinic and Two Tree Angwa Bridges in Ward 3 were damaged. 

Lightning struck five adults at River Range business centre in Ward 5, killing one, and the other four and a schoolgirl struck in Ward 13 were hospitalised.

The rains also caused some damage in Ward 6 and the Alaska-Copper Queen Road, under upgrade in Ward 8, was damaged. He said many bridges in the district were damaged to some degree and there had been damage to some school blocks and tobacco barns.

“We have proactive councillors and communities who have been working to rehabilitate some of the damaged infrastructure. Some of the councillors have partnered the council to transport cement it purchased to help rehabilitate some of the infrastructure.”

Some people in the district who farm on fertile islands along Mupfure River that passes through Wards 14, 15 and 16 were marooned as a result of sudden flash floods, although people have been warned not to farm too close to rivers that might rise in flood, let alone on islands in the rivers.

Heavy rains uprooted trees blocking Fourth Avenue in Warren Park, Harare yesterday. — Picture: Justin Mutenda

Mr Zivanai said there was need for council and other departments involved in road rehabilitation to focus on bridge maintenance to ensure that any damage was repaired quickly before the fast flowing rivers could make it worse.

The Civil Protection Unit in Beitbridge has started assessing most rural wards where heavy rains accompanied by severe storms have left 10 families homeless across Wards 2, 5, 6 and 15. 

Acting CPU chairperson, Mr Jahson Mugodzwa, said families in flooded areas were now sharing accommodation in a single room while others are seeking shelter at neighbours. 

“In ward 5 we received reports of five homesteads where some houses’ walls gave in as a result of severe storm and in ward 15 we have three homesteads. Two homesteads were affected in Wards 2 and 6. We are expecting to get more reports later in the week. At the same time, we have activated our ward rapid response teams to be on high alert of any form of rainfall related hazards,” said Mr Mugodzwa. 

When Herald reporters reached Ward 15, the five affected families had moved in with relatives while they rebuild the ruined houses. 

The road linking Lutumba Business Centre and Tshikwalakwala has become a nightmare for most motorists who have to use some donkey strips to pass washaways and potholes. 

Ward 15 Councilor, Rueben Mbedzi said they were worried that some villagers might have challenges with access to water considering that some boreholes and protected wells were located by streams which have risen in flood. 

“So far we have a challenge around the Makaphile area, where two protected wells are submerged in a stream in that area and people there have challenges with access to clean water. 

“Things can only get better after the rainy season. Our long term plan is to pool resources and drill boreholes outside stream beds to avoid the recurrence of such problems,” he said. 

Assessment done in ward 5 Lutumba, revealed that the road linking the area and Tongwe Business centre has been badly damaged and cannot be used by cars at the moment. 

The local CPU has already made arrangements for people likely to be affected by floods or storms to be housed at churches and schools across the district should they be flooded out. 

In Midlands, heavy rains have damaged a bridge along the Shurugwi-Mhandamahwe highway a few kilometres from Shurugwi, forcing private motorists and commercial trucks to use the longer Beitbridge-Zvishavane highway.

Shurugwi District Civil Protection Unit chair, Mr Langton Mupeta said only small vehicles were still risking lives by using the bridge, as it now hangs precariously after being damaged by rains at Msavezi River. Truck drivers were going the long way round.

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