SANDF told “be ready” as La Niña takes hold

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South Africa now has a pair of officially sanctioned states of disaster – one to deal with ongoing power generation and supply and the second to “co-ordinate response” to flooding in seven provinces.

The SA National Defence Force (SANDF), as in the past, is one of government’s “go-to guys” for flooding, officially declared a disaster yesterday (13 February) and announced by The Presidency.

There was, at the time of publishing, no indication of how and where the people power of the national defence force would be utilised.  Previous similar deployments, executed under the Operation Prosper banner, saw soldiers and other military personnel, ranging from SA Air Force (SAAF) assets delivering emergency and medical supplies to cut-off areas, SA Army engineers and soldiers assisting with stopping and repairing flood damage to infrastructure. Some of the medical disciplines in the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) were also utilised previously and can be expected to swing into action if called on by government’s National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC).

Leading to declaration of the second state of disaster (SoD), according to The Presidency, was NDMC receiving reports ranging from flooded homes, vehicles swept away by floodwaters and overflowing dams and sewerage facilities, to the loss of basic infrastructure and damage to roads, bridges and a Limpopo hospital.

In agriculture, farmers suffered crop and livestock losses and anticipate further losses as the SA Weather Service (SAWS) predicts current heavy rains will persist.

“These conditions were brought on by the La Niña global weather phenomenon which occurs in the Pacific Ocean but impacts on a country like South Africa with above-normal rainfall. Forecasts indicate this weather pattern will remain in place during the early part of 2023. The presence of a La Niña event usually has its strongest impact on rainfall during the mid-summer months. With the continued strengthening of the La Niña event, the country can expect above normal rainfall and below normal temperatures over the summer rainfall areas,” The Presidency notes in making the SoD public knowledge.

“These conditions,” it continues, “demand provision of temporary shelters, food and blankets to homeless families and individuals and large scale, costly rehabilitation of infrastructure.

“National entities, including the SA Police Service (SAPS) and the SANDF, may be required in response to the disaster.”

Provinces affected are Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West and Northern Cape.