Eloise lashes Limpopo

By Sakhiseni Nxumalo Time of article published Jan 25, 2021

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Durban - THE Limpopo province was hit hard by the tropical storm Eloise on Sunday, with widespread flooding causing damage to public infrastructure including roads and bridges.

The spokesperson for the Limpopo Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, Molebatsi Masedi, said though the damage was widespread the strong winds that had been forecast had not occurred.

“We had anticipated strong winds, which would have seen roofs of buildings being blown away. However, we are now dealing with floods in most parts of Limpopo,” he said.

According to Masedi, several areas which fall under the Vhembe District had been flooded, resulting in overflowing rivers and waterlogged roads.

“The teams are doing all they can to respond to the incidents. We have also had a bridge washed away and the Department of Public works is going to create an alternative road.

“The damaged bridge was key to the transportation of goods as services. If an alternative is not found immediately, that creates a great problem for the communities,” Masedi said.

In the Waterberg District, roads in various areas such as Mopani, Boulders, Shipandani, Phalaborwa, Nxanatseni and Tsendze were not accessible due to flooding, Masedi said.

He said there were no reported injuries or reports of displaced residents.

The cost of the damage had not been quantified yet, and teams had been dispatched to the affected areas to assess the damage.

SANParks spokesperson Isaac Phaahla said yesterday that the Kruger National Park had moderate to heavy rains overnight.

According to Phaahla, 36mm to 66mm was recorded at Skukuza and Pretoriuskop, while in the north of the park between 60mm and 100mm fell, with slightly more in Punda Maria.

He said that the road between Punda Maria and Shingwedzi had been closed as it was under water.

He said all bushveld camps in the north and Shingwedzi camp were evacuated on Saturday, to be on the safe side.

He said more rain was forecast for the Ehlanzeni District, which means more rain can be expected in the southern part of the park.

“Our disaster teams are still on high alert,” Phaahla added.

Wits University professor and geo-scientist Jasper Knight said it was too early to tell how the storm would evolve over the next few days.

“Residents living in high-risk areas need to be aware of what is happening in their areas. Eloise is the biggest of them all, and it’s concerning as already a lot of disruption has been caused to people and the environment,” he said.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Sipho Hlomuka, said disaster management teams and other stakeholders from uMkhanyakude, King Cetshwayo and Zululand districts had embarked on an awareness drive.

Hlomuka said residents in Big Five-Hlabisa, Jozini, Mtubatuba, uMhlabuyalingana, Abaqulusi, eDumbe, Mthonjaneni, Nongoma, Ulundi, uMlalazi and uPhongolo, which were identified as areas that could experience heavy downpours, had been warned to take extra precautions and not to try to drive on waterlogged roads or cross flooded rivers.

“Residents in these areas have been warned to avoid unnecessary trips which could see them stranded as a result of bridges and roads being flooded. Residents are also urged to abide by instructions from their local disaster management officials, especially in areas where evacuations might be needed,” he said.

Hlomuka added that they had directed municipalities in high-risk areas to ensure that public facilities, such as community halls, were placed on standby to house residents who might be displaced by the heavy rains.

The Mercury

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