Tropical Storm Freddy kills 1, damages houses
Deputy News Editor
THE weakened Tropical Storm Freddy has killed one person, damaged houses and sugarcane plantations in various parts of the country since Saturday.
Freddy arrived in the Mozambique channel, on February 22 and remained in the channel for two days, before making landfall on the Mozambique coast around Maxixe (about 400km from the south eastern border of Zimbabwe) last Friday.
Due to the distance, Freddy failed to make it to Zimbabwe as anticipated on February 24.
In a statement yesterday, the Department of Civil Protection in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works said in light of the anticipated cyclone, which later became a storm, civil protection organisations, provinces and development partners, were on high alert.
Provincial and district Command Centres in the districts likely to be affected were manned 24 hours.
The DCP said they continue to receive updates from provinces and districts that were most likely to be affected by Freddy.
In Mazowe District of Mashonaland Central Province, an eight classroom block had its roof blown off by strong winds at Musarara Primary School in Ward 9.
In Ward 11, five houses had their roofs blown off and furniture damaged.
In Shamva urban, a heavy wind storm was witnessed on Sunday around 2pm, and uprooted a Mukuyu tree at Cross junction along Chakonda Road, resulting in the death of a 24-year-old man.
Mashonaland provincial police spokesperson Inspector Milton Mundembe has identified the deceased as Roberto Mukanwa, of Mukanwa Village under Chief Bushu. Mukanwa, who was a tout along the Shamva-Chakonda Road, had taken shelter under a makeshift shade that was under the Mukuyu tree.
Insp Mundembe said the body was retrieved and taken to Shamva Hospital mortuary for a post-mortem.
The DCP said in Manicaland Province, Chipinge District received heavy rains and strong winds on Sunday resulting in roofs of staff houses being blown off at Simudzai Primary School in Chipinge and Checheche Primary School in Chisumbanje.
In Masvingo Province’s Bikita District, one thatched hut was struck by lightning on Saturday in Kutsirai Village, while in Zaka District’s Marimira Village, Ward 13, “a house was completely destroyed by rainfall on February 26, 2023”.
In Chiredzi District’s Ward 19, Hippo Valley Estates, sugarcane plantations “were extensively damaged”, said the DCP.
Added the DCP: “The country is still in the cyclone season and is also prone to other extreme weather events, hence, it is imperative that all national and sub-national structures remain vigilant in the same spirit that was prevailing in preparation for Cyclone Freddy.
“Given the unpredictable nature of Tropical Storm Freddy in the ensuing days after the original forecast regarding its trajectory, the department in collaboration with MSD (Meteorological Services Department) and other stakeholders has scheduled for a mission to give feedback to the nation and particularly communities.
“This will build confidence in future early warning programmes, alerts amongst the citizens.”
Explaining the weakening of Freddy, the MSD said cyclones are weakened by two main factors which are; frictional surfaces due to mountains and other land objects that disturb the smooth flow of winds within the system, and lack of moisture especially when outside the ocean waters.
The delays by Freddy to make a landfall in Mozambique saw it weakening its magnitude and reducing its severity, hence the delays in reaching Zimbabwe on February 24 as initially projected.
In its update on Saturday, the MSD said the weakened Freddy was expected to last until today.