HARARE - The incessant rains that are pounding Zimbabwe have left a trail of destruction, with virtually no part of the country left unscathed.
The good news is that the rains, and the consequent flooding, are set to subside.
Jonathan Chifuna, the Zimbabwe Meteorological Department’s principal metrological officer, said yesterday that although the rains were set to continue, they were expected to subside in intensity.
“The condition that caused heavy rains in the country in the past week has moved slightly out of Zimbabwe, to be quasi-stationary just outside the borders of Zimbabwe on the border of Mozambique and Zambia.
“This should keep feeding moisture to the extreme northern parts of
Zimbabwe in Mashonaland provinces and thereby maintaining the wet spell in Mashonaland Central province.
“However, the rainfall amounts expected out of this system over
Zimbabwe should not be very high as compared to what happened last week,” Chifuna said.
He said some parts of the country, especially Manicaland and Masvingo, would face light rains because of a high pressure system which was expected to cause occasional cloudy conditions.
“By Thursday the 8th (of January), the high pressure system should strengthen and cause mostly cloudy and rather windy conditions with light rain and drizzle across the whole country,” he said.
Chifuna also warned against drinking water from unprotected water sources, saying thus raised the risk of waterborne diseases.
“In the next few days there will be many pools of stagnant water, creating conditions conducive for malaria producing mosquitoes to breed,” he warned. “Accordingly, the health authorities should take the necessary steps, including warnings.”
He said the second half of the rainfall season would commence from the middle of January.
The heavy rains of the past week have claimed lives and caused mayhem,ripping apart resettlement areas and leaving a trail of destruction.
Massive evacuation by relief agencies have ensured that the death toll was restricted to 11, although several more deaths may have remained unreported.
The heavy rains have especially flooded low-lying areas and cut off road, rail, power and telecommunication lines.
In the capital, Harare, Hopley Farm and Epworth were badly affected, with high-tension electricity wires hanging about everywhere.
Fortunately for local residents, there had been no power since last week.
Dozens of mud and pole homes were destroyed at Hopley Farm by the floods that killed a six-year-old boy in his sleep.
Munyaradzi Pondwa told the Daily News that his brother’s son had died when the house he was sleeping in together with his father, mother, as well as his siblings, were flooded on Saturday.
“He died around three o’clock in the morning when they were fast asleep.
“The parents realised he had died when they noticed his brains splashed on the floor after being hit by a television set and a room divider that fell as the roof collapsed,” a devastated Pondwa said.
He said his brother’s two-year-old son had also been injured during the flooding, although they had only noticed yesterday that his hand was swelling, upon which they rushed him to hospital.
Another Hopley flood victim, Phineas Mutoo, said he was lucky to be still alive after his apartment that is next to a tuck shop collapsed.
“The whole building collapsed starting from the door frame but I was lucky to have been awake so I managed to pull out most of our belongings.
“It is a sad situation here that almost everyone is in mourning as some have lost their loved ones and all their valuables,” Mutoo said.
In Epworth, the situation was the same. There were, however, no reports of deaths although many houses were destroyed, leaving household goods and appliances exposed.
Tsitsi Chitate (21) of Solani said she was living in fear after one of the rooms she rented collapsed.
“There was no one in the room when it fell with a deafening thud from the iron sheets that were used to cover it.
“It was scary because it occurred late into the night. We thought the whole house was collapsing that we had to spend the rest of the night seated, ready to escape,” she said.
Lameck Betera, principal administration officer at the Civil Protection Unit (CPU), said his organisation was mobilising other organisations in an inter-agency rapid assessment of the floods to ascertain the extent of the damage caused.
Betera said there was also need for the weather conditions to improve first to allow rescue operations to proceed, while they were also mobilising critically-needed resources.
“We have a problem of access to areas that faced floods that is why we encourage people in affected areas to be mindful and go to higher ground.
“Even if the Air Force provides helicopters, they do not fly in bad weather. It is a very expensive process.
“We will never have adequate resources and we work with partners. Some 4x4 vehicles could not access some areas in places such as Muzarabani.
At least the rains are stopping and we will be able to access some areas.”
The legislators for Epworth and Harare South, Amos Midzi and Shadreck Mashayamombe respectively, called on Harare City Council to facilitate the construction of permanent structures.
The residents have been settled for nine years without their stands being regularised.
“About 350 families from my constituency alone were affected and we call upon local authorities to make sure that the residents build proper houses which the city fathers must inspect,” Mashayamobe said.
Midzi called for an all-stakeholders approach to help the victims.
Takemore Mazuruse, Zimbabwe Red Cross Society’s head of marketing and public relations said the society continued to mobilise support for families that were affected.
“We are distributing tents, kitchen sets, soap and water buckets among other things from our warehouses,” Mazuruse said.
He said the society was going to appeal for a disaster fund from its international mother body.
“When such disaster occurs, we apply for a disaster relief fund from the International Federation of Red Cross. We are still assessing the situation to come up with the budget for the disaster,” he said.