Tropical storm Eloise is currently moving through western parts of Botswana, but it is expected to link up with another weather system which could kickstart more heavy rains across the country.
This according to South African Weather Service (SAWS) forecaster Ezekiel Sibeko, who was part of a briefing conducted by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
Sibeko said the storm had currently lost most of its intensity, but that the SAWS was still on high alert.
Rains over western North West were expected on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Eloise matching with another system could cause heavy rains over the eastern parts of the Northern Cape, western parts of the North West, the Free State and the Eastern Cape.
Sibeko confirmed that weather warnings for heavy rain would be issued for the affected provinces from Wednesday and into Thursday.
However, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and parts of KwaZulu-Natal have been battered by Eloise, and are scrambling to rescue and evacuate all affected residents.
At least two people have died.
Fatalities and injuries
Mpumalanga cooperative governance acting head of department Sam Ngubane revealed that a five-year-old boy drowned while trying to cross a river. His body was discovered in Masoi, he confirmed.
Ngubane said two people were also missing and being searched for in the Pilgrim’s Rest area.
At least 78 homes have been completely or partially destroyed. Seven people have been injured.
Limpopo cooperative governance MEC Rodgers Makamu said that 78 families had been displaced due to collapsing and flooded houses.
Two people were also injured. He also reported that a number of bridges had collapsed, and a police station was flooded. One road was also completely collapsed.
In KwaZulu-Natal, cooperative governance MEC Sipho Hlomuka said that 280 households had been affected by heavy rains and flooding, which has affected 916 people.
175 houses have been completely destroyed by the storm, and a number of roads and bridges have been affected.
Two boys were also injured and were admitted to hospital in the Zululand District.
And in AbaQulusi, a 14-year-old boy drowned early on Tuesday morning.
State of Disaster?
Deputy director-general of the national disaster management centre, Mmaphaka Tau, said that Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal had not yet been declared disaster areas.
This is because declaring a State of Disaster required acknowledgement that resources at a province’s disposal had been overstretched or not sufficient to deal with the incident at hand.
“At this stage, the impact of the storm is still being dealt with, in terms of evacuation and rescue and relief measures,” he explained, adding that once all measures had been sufficiently implemented, and departments and municipalities realised that they could not cope with the available rescues, only then would a state of disaster be considered for the embattled provinces.
He said a State of Disaster meant introducing regulations, passing by-laws urgently and gaining access to funds from the national fiscus.
“At this stage, leaders are ensuring their response measures are done impact fully.”
Tips for preventing death and injury
Tau provided the following tips for communities that have been and are predicted to be affected by tropical storm Eloise:
- Do not cross rivers without first checking water levels
- Do not cross flooded roads or bridges, especially low-lying bridges – rather delay than risk your life
- Do not swim or walk in water
- Motorists should park off in a safe area if they cannot cross a road or are caught in a heavy downpour
- The public must monitor weather alerts
- Teach children about the dangers of flooding
- Keep important documents in water-resistant containers
- Call the following emergency numbers if you require assistance: 112 or 10177 or 107.