Cogta relief teams preparing for Cyclone Freddy

Strong winds and heavy rains are expected to cause further havoc in areas already battered by recent floods.

With recent floods claiming 11 lives in Mpumalanga alone, Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Thembi Nkadimeng says they are preparing for any outcome in anticipation of Cyclone Freddy that is expected to bring heavy rains and strong winds in the north eastern part of South Africa from Saturday morning.

The minister called on communities, who may be affected by Cyclone Freddy, currently downgraded to a tropical storm, to heed warnings and evacuate if necessary.

“Listen to the notices of evacuations, stay safe and don’t try to cross any streams. One of the cases in Nkomazi was a learner who was trying to cross a stream and he’s still missing since [Tuesday].

She says recent flooding claimed six lives in the Nkomazi area alone with 11 fatalities reported in the Mpumalanga province.

“One life is one too many, so we need to stay clear of streams. Our teams are on the ground, humanitarian relief as well, readying ourselves for Friday and Saturday if we may need to evacuate more people,” Nkadimeng says.

She says the anticipated storm is expected to bring added pressure on infrastructure and homes that are already flood battered and will set back ongoing relief efforts.

“It is anticipated that it will continue pouring in Mpumalanga. We are already sitting at about 1 929 houses that must be [provided] for human settlement relief in the province.

Turning to current relief efforts, Nkadimeng says Cogta has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa requesting the help of the South African army to assist with disaster relief in the flood-hit Eastern Cape.

Heavy rains have battered several provinces over the past two weeks, leading President Ramaphosa to declare a National State of Disaster to ensure an accelerated response from government to assist affected communities.

Nkadimeng says about six municipalities in the Nkomazi area are estimated to have suffered damages of almost R1b. Damage in the Eastern Cape are also estimated to be ‘billions’ she says.

“We are discussing and asking for authority from the president and the minister of defence to dispense the army in the Eastern Cape because some of the roads are totally destroyed,” she says.

She says that damaged water infrastructure has caused several villages to be without water. Roads were damaged and farmers lost livestock.

According to Nkadimeng, in Nkomazi alone 5 650 cattle and goats and 119 pieces of farming equipment have been lost which will cost farmers an estimated R200m to recover or repair. –


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