After days of torrential rains and severe flooding, it has been confirmed that at least three people have lost their lives due to the inclement weather in the region.
On Monday, 13 February 2023, the KwaZulu-Natal Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (KZN CoGTA) MEC, Bongi Sithole Moloi, led mop-up operations in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal under the Amajuba District. Where it was confirmed that two people and an infant had lost their lives during the floods.
In Dannhauser Municipality, two people, Nokubonga Mchunu, 22, and Thulani Mabaso, 52, died after they were swept away while trying to cross a large body of water.
Moreover, In Newcastle Ward 25, which covers the CBD, Arbor Park and Fairleigh areas, an infant died when the house the baby was in, flooded.
During her visit to Newcastle, the MEC, together with the political leadership of the Amajuba District and senior officials from the Provincial Disaster Management Centre, conducted an inspection of the flood-damaged areas in the Newcastle CBD.
Following the oversight visit, MEC Sithole-Moloi stressed, “We continue to appeal to residents to exercise the utmost caution as the inclement weather conditions could continue. Working with social partners, the Provincial Disaster Management Center is working closely with all municipalities to make sure assessments are done and the right steps are taken to help affected communities.”
While KZN CoGTA has assured the necessary steps are being taken, on 13 February 2023, the Government, in terms of the Disaster Management Act of 2002, declared a national state of disaster to enable an intensive, coordinated response to the floods affecting Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, the Northern Cape, and North West.
The Presidency explained, “The National Disaster Management Centre has, in terms of Section 23 of the Disaster Management Act, classified the impact of current, above-normal rainfall in various parts of the country – with Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape as the most affected – as a national disaster.”
In addition, it was noted that a national disaster may be declared by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) when disastrous events occur or threaten to occur in more than one province.
“The National Disaster Management Centre has received reports ranging from flooded homes, vehicles swept away by floodwaters and overflowing dams and sewerage facilities, to the loss of basic infrastructure and damage to roads, bridges and a Limpopo hospital,” said the Presidency.
With businesses and residents enduring hardships during the flooding, the Presidency noted that the inclement weather has also impacted the agricultural sector, with farmers suffering crop and livestock losses.
The agricultural sector anticipates further losses, said the Presidency, as the South African Weather Service predicts that current heavy rains will persist.
“These conditions have been brought on by the La Niña global weather phenomenon which occurs in the Pacific Ocean but impacts on a country like South Africa with above-normal rainfall. Forecasts indicate this weather pattern will remain in this state during the early part of 2023. The presence of a La Niña event usually has its strongest impact on rainfall during the mid-summer months.”
With the continued strengthening of the La Niña event, the country can expect above-normal rainfall and below-normal temperatures over the next while.
Furthermore, the Presidency explained that these conditions demand the provision of temporary shelters, food and blankets to homeless families and individuals and the large-scale, costly rehabilitation of infrastructure.
“The National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) continues to monitor, coordinate response and recovery measures by the relevant organs of state and stakeholders. This further includes the dissemination of early warnings and advisories on weather forecasts by the South African Weather Service (SAWS),” highlighted the Presidency.
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