High winds batter Manicaland as Cyclone Idai approaches

Heavy winds tore through Manicaland yesterday, bringing lightning and heavy rain, battering buildings with hail, flooding streets and uprooting trees as Tropical Cyclone Idai barrels towards the country.

After making landfall through central Mozambique where it has already killed at least 100 people, leaving thousands homeless and wrecking millions of dollars worth of property and infrastructure, precursor winds were tearing through the eastern highlands, with Mutare’s Sakubva market’s roofs being blown off, spelling doom when the centre of the cyclone reaches the province.

The province’s disaster preparedness is certainly going to be tested as most people showed a total lack of appreciation of what lies ahead as the cyclone bears down. The blowing off of the Sakubva vegetable market — which was built by Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company — also brings into question the ability of local infrastructure to withstand the cyclones’ gusty winds.

Schools closed early as winds picked up with more rains being dumped across the province. The Civil Protection Unit (CPU) warned Zimbabweans in areas that are likely to be affected to take precaution as there is an increased risk of flooding and damage to homes and infrastructure.

“Accordingly, all communities in Masvingo, Manicaland, Mashonaland East and Central and other parts of the country that may be affected must maintain vigilance and are advised that every effort must be made to access weather updates and pay particular attention to information needs of people with disabilities and those with chronic illnesses,” the CPU said in an alert.

“In case of strong winds, it is safer to shelter in houses with the strongest roofs and to close all windows and doors. Communities should be on the lookout for rising water levels and quickly move to safe places when there is need to do so.”

In Chiredzi, the protection unit has advised parents to ensure that children are supervised and never play near pools, rivers and streams. “Parents are advised to exercise discretion tomorrow on whether to allow their children to go to school or not especially where children cross streams and rivers. Let’s all be on standby to assist whoever will be in need.”

Weather warnings were the order of the day, with forecasts of violent winds.  Cyclone Idai, which was carrying winds of up to 225km per hour when it reached the coast of Beira, has been described as “an extremely dangerous tropical cyclone.” It is, however, expected to weaken as it moves further onto the African continent through Zimbabwe.

Meteorological Services Department (MSD) forecaster James Ngoma told the Daily News that the cyclone is posing a risk in Zimbabwe. “Chisengu has recorded a maximum rainfall of 153mm whilst Chipinge has so far recorded 56mm. Its direction has not yet been projected but the cyclone’s speed and strength have retarded,” Ngoma said yesterday morning.

Ngoma said the MSD will continue monitoring the trajectory of cyclone Idai to keep members of the public informed.
Claris Madhuku, a civil rights activist from Chipinge slammed the level of preparedness of government to deal with the Cyclone.

“We have been largely sharing information through social media platforms but government should have been doing more. Save Valley is prone to flooding and winds and most of the people are not properly equipped to respond to this cyclone’s threats,” Madhuku said.

Civil society actors said while there was ample time for government and its partners to respond to the cyclone warning, campaigns have not been as intense due to resource constraints. “This cyclone is coming at a very bad time considering how constrained government is with resources but it gave us enough time to plan and prepare people,” the official, who requested anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to the press, said.

The cyclone first landed in Mozambique’s fourth largest city, Beira, where floods have reportedly destroyed more than 5 000 homes and affected more than 140 000 people.


 

    Comments (1)

    Kumele imali ihlale ikhona..I emergency fund. Ama cyclones kaiso nto embi..kasikafundi ukuyakha kupela for 21st weather. Ngabe sesikhuluma ukuthi I matare silamagetsi awomnyaka wonke. Ama wind turbines asefakwa elwandleni lamandiya emoza kuzaba lamanye duzane le cabora bassa I us$1Bn investment ilengqondo...imisebenzi ingavuka. Ukufa kwabantu akulunganga , kaiso nto esiyithabelayo abanye sasidlala siyenza I windsurfing singakwazi ukuthi kuzafiwa.

    Ukuthuthuka Kwabantu. - 20 March 2019

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