The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has urged communities in flood-affected areas to exercise caution, as torrential rains have once again left a trail of destruction and sorrow for many families who have lost loved ones as a result of the devastating floods.
The heavy weather this weekend struck KwaZulu-Natal the worst, and it continues to batter the province, resulting in overflowing rivers, submerged vehicles, and destroyed properties.
Members of the public are warned that water moves quickly downstream, and that flooding can occur even when there is no rain, necessitating the need to be watchful and cautious.
The South African Weather Service has issued a warning for more rains still expected in many parts of the country. When flash flood warnings are issued, residents in flood-prone areas or those who are at risk of flooding are advised to move to higher ground.
At this stage, Provincial and Local Disaster Management teams across the country are on alert and assisting communities affected by the floods. The National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) is in contact with provincial and local disaster management centres on the ground to monitor the situation and provide support.
Minister Dlamini Zuma also expresses her deepest condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives as a result of the recent rains.
- People living in low-lying areas must take special care during storms, as sudden floods might affect them. They should monitor the rising water levels and evacuate the areas to a safer place or higher spot when the water level rises.
- Do not cross through flooded roads or bridges – use other routes.
- Avoid crossing low-lying bridges, streams and rivers.
- Never try to walk, swim or drive in swift-flowing water. Even if the water is 15 cm deep, it can sweep you off your feet;
- Motorist must be very careful and avoid driving through flooded areas.
- Drive to and park at safer areas.
- The public must monitor weather alerts on radio and television.
- The public should contact their municipal disaster management centres or the nearest police station or call the national emergency numbers (112, 10177 or 107) when faced with threats.
- Do not try to drive over a low-water bridge if water is flowing strongly across it and the ground is not visible.
- Teach your children about the dangers of floods.
- Keep your important documents in a water-resistant container.
- Keep your cell phone in close proximity to you and have emergency numbers at hand.
- Be especially vigilant at night. It is harder to recognise potentially deadly road hazards.
- Do not camp or park your car along rivers or washes, especially during heavy rains or thunderstorms.
- If you are on foot, be aware that low moving water can also be dangerous during flood conditions. If you come upon moving water, do not walk into it.
- Where possible, communities are encouraged to try to avoid contact with any flood waters. The water may be contaminated with raw sewage, oil or other dangerous substances, and may also be charged with electricity from fallen powerlines.
Lungi Mtshali (COGTA)