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MPs set for KZN visit to see flood damage, assess relief efforts

SOUTH AFRICA - ANAPIX - Durban -22 MAY 2022 - Residents were evacuated from flats at Umdloti after heavy rains washed away some of the buildings. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency(ANA)

SOUTH AFRICA - ANAPIX - Durban -22 MAY 2022 - Residents were evacuated from flats at Umdloti after heavy rains washed away some of the buildings. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency(ANA)

Published May 23, 2022

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MPs will visit KwaZulu-Natal on Friday after the latest wave of floods struck the province at the weekend, with hundreds of residents having to evacuate their homes.

Co-chairs of Parliament’s joint ad hoc committee on the floods in KZN, Jomo Nyambi and Cedric Frolick, said on Monday the visit will shed light on the extent of the damage in the province.

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The latest floods come as the province is still recovering from the devastating floods in April, when more than 440 people died and thousands were displaced.

Political parties have questioned the early warning system, saying if it was effective the scale of the damage would have been minimised last month.

Over the past weekend, the South African Weather Service issued an early warning in time and raised the alert to Level 10, which gave people time to prepare for heavy rainfall and flooding.

MPs said had this been done in April, the level of damage would not have been as severe.

Head of the National Disaster Management Centre Jurgens Dyssel told MPs on Monsday that in April there had been early warnings, and these were issued days before heavy rain pounded KZN leading to severe floods and extensive damage.

“In terms of the early warning issued, firstly the early warning was issued on April 7. By April 11 the early warning was upgraded to a level 5 for the inland part of KZN and level 8 for the coastal areas. On April 12 that was upgraded to a level 9,” he said.

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“To respond to the issue, what is different in the way in which people responded in terms of the first warnings and the second: It is very important... to understand that there are two key components in terms of early warning response,” he said.

One was to ensure that an early warning was issued immediately to different channels.

This was done immediately when the information became available about a changing or severe weather pattern.

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The second was how this information was received by the public.

“That is important for us to understand the two events because in the first event the people did not react timeously. For that matter you find that the response to dealing with the event is compromised to a degree.

"In the second event we had significant understanding of what was going on, public perception and the response to this issue is much different to the matter. People were taking the matter on, people were responding,” he said.

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Members of the ad hoc committee said they wanted officials and departments to answer some of the concerns they had about rebuilding and providing social relief.

EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi said some of the flood victims were still in distress and had not been helped by government.

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