Floods in Limpopo leave hundreds of families displaced
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Pretoria - Heavy rains and thunderstorms have caused devastation in parts of Limpopo during the week from Christmas to New Year’s Day, leaving hundreds of families displaced.
The violent storms have affected about 300 families in various district municipalities in the past week alone, with Sekhukhune being the hardest hit with 170 families affected, Mopani with 106, and Vhembe with six.
Although there were no fatalities during the disaster, five people were injured during the storms. Four of them have been discharged from hospital, while a four-year-old toddler is still receiving treatment.
The most affected local municipalities are Ellias Motsoaledi in Sekhukhune, Greater Tzaneen in Mopani, and the Collins Chabane area in Vhembe.
The villages ravaged by the storms include Dikgalopeng, Dennilton, Kgapamadi, Jerusalem and Mosterlus, where the roofs of some of the houses were completely blown off.
Veronicca Sekgathume, a 34-year-old mother of three from Mosterlus, said they had not been ready for the damage the heavy downpours caused.
Sekgathume said: “We couldn’t sleep during some of the nights because the rain kept pouring down and there were thunderstorms that blew off our roof. At times we didn’t know whether to run or save our belongings.
“As I speak, I don’t know where my ID document and other personal belongings are. I actually thought I was dreaming at times. My three children are traumatised.”
The Limpopo Department of Social Development and Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs have jointly started distributing relief in the form of food parcels and other basic amenities to the families affected.
Social Development MEC Nkankareng Rakgoale said social workers together with disaster management officials in the three districts were working together to assist the affected households.
Rakgoale said: “Teams of social workers are on the ground distributing relief to the families that have already been assessed. We are working together with the Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs and disaster management officials from the districts to ensure that we assist in this situation.
“Those that have been displaced are being provided with temporary accommodation. We hope to reach out to all those who have been affected as soon as possible.”
On Thursday last week, Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs MEC Basikopo Makamu visited Tafelkop and Dennilton in Sekhukhune to assess the damaged houses.
Makamu said the aim of the visit was to assess the damage and ascertain where they could be of help. However, the department continued to be disturbed by the ongoing rain in the area.
He said: “We will give support to the affected families by distributing blankets and overseeing the construction of temporary shelters.
“In addition, there will be food parcels distributed to the families in collaboration with DSD.”
Sekhukhune District Municipality mayor Stanley Ramaila, who also visited the affected areas last week, said the municipalities had secured temporary shelters to accommodate the stranded residents and the process to procure shelter for individual households was under way.
Meanwhile, at the beginning of December police divers retrieved a woman’s body after she allegedly drowned when a car she was travelling in was swept away while trying to cross a low-lying bridge on the Thorncliffe River, outside Steelpoort, during relentless downpours.
During the incident, five people were swept away. The remaining four are still being searched for.