Preparedness can help save lives, property

WITH the memory of Cyclone Eline still fresh in everyone’s mind, it’s the right moment to point out that everyone in Zimbabwe needs to pay close attention to the fast approaching Cyclone Idai.

Elsewhere in this edition, we report that 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 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 — and indeed the country’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.
With the Metereological Services Department saying the cyclone could be weakening, there is no need to worry, but there’s every reason to be ready.

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. We need to prepare. Even though we might miss the eyewall of Idai, we have so far felt the force of the cyclone winds — and it could be so much worse.

For a sense of just how much worse things could be, look at the death toll coming out of Mozambique. Officials there now say that 100 people died. Weather forecasters have given sufficient warning: There is an approaching tropical cyclone. Chisengu has recorded a maximum rainfall of 153mm while Chipinge has so far recorded 56mm. 

The cyclone’s direction has not yet been projected but the cyclone’s speed and strength have retarded, the Met Dept said yesterday morning. Preparedness can save lives and minimise damage. Warnings given by forecasters cannot be ignored. Even if the cyclone veers away from the country, it’s better to be fully prepared.

While it’s Saturday and the cyclone has failed to hit Zimbabwe on Thursday as earlier predicted, we must not be lulled into a false sense of serenity. Of course, there is no need to panic. But there is every need to prepare. Past similar natural calamities have caused untold suffering while leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.