Climate change is unfortunately upon us, and it affects the country’s rainfall patterns. Some of our rains are characterised with heavy winds and flash floods that often leave a trail of destruction in our communities. These are the effects of climate change, and they are going to be with us for a long time.
This is evident in the recent torrential rains in Western Cape where rooftops were blown away by the strong winds and the roads were left submerged in water. Hundreds of homes were saturated with water and people, including children, lost their lives. It is so heart-breaking when the little ones are also victims of such circumstances. As adults, we have a responsibility to protect our little ones.
In KwaZulu-Natal, the recent heavy rains left eight people dead, hundreds of homes were destroyed and families had to be evacuated to places of safety.
If such a devastation can happen in urban areas, what about in underdeveloped areas such as informal settlements where there is no proper infrastructure?
Informal settlements are generally established on land that is not conducive for habitation. There are communities that dwell in low-lying areas along the rivers or streams with their shacks erected within the flood lines.
In these unpredictable times of volatile weather patterns, communities are earnestly advised not to reside in areas that are within the flood lines. Residing is such areas is a disaster waiting to happen.
According to the National Water Act, a flood line is a place or the highest level that a flood could reach every 100 years. Therefore, regulations on new developments should be imposed and enforced on the construction of new developments in cities. All developments need to be above the flood line to avoid danger of flooding.
Communities living in flood-prone areas can help themselves by ascending to higher grounds immediately during floods. Do not wait until the last minute.
Please remain aware of your surroundings by monitoring the local radio station and communicating with neighbours. Make sure not to walk through flood waters. It takes only 6 inches (about 15.2cm) of moving water to knock you off your feet. By no means, do not drive into flooded roadways. Turn around! Water may be deeper than it appears. Let us be safe Mzansi, let us be proactive and not reactive.
Nthabiseng Dhlamini is a communicator at the National Department of Water and Sanitation.