SANDF ups flood standby


The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is on standby to provide a humanitarian assistance to the flood victims at the Vhembe District Municipality in Limpopo Province. The National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC), meanwhile, says more than 14 000 families have been affected by floods ravaging seven provinces since last month.

In addition, 85 people have died and damage to infrastructure and crops worth billions of Rand have been recorded.

The SANDF says it will also provide “over three hundred food parcels” to flood victims in the area and a Denel Oryx helicopter from the South African Air Force is on standby to fly the aid into the area. The municipality is one of 28 declared disaster areas by Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Sicelo Shiceka earlier this month.

The military deployed an Oryx helicopter and Cessna 210 as well as two Operational Emergency Care Practitioners from the South African Military Health Service to Upington earlier this month to provide search and rescue (SAR) support to the flood-stricken Northern Cape Province.

Shiceka activated a national disaster joint operations centre Monday “to better coordinate government interventions in the current spate of natural disasters” after a meeting between officials at the NDMC and their provincial peers. “The activation of the provincial and national disaster joint operations centres will help in standardising reporting protocols to the NDMC, improve coordination of government interventions across the three spheres of government and streamline communication in relation to the disasters,” Shiceka’s office said in a statement.

The NDMC says 6271 households have been affected by the floods in KwaZulu-Natal, followed by 2936 in the Free State, 1540 in Limpopo, 1506 in the Eastern Cape, 1125 in the Northern Cape, 1029 in the North West and 13 in Mpumalanga. The figure is expected to rise as Gauteng’s numbers must still be confirmed. There have been no households affected in the Western Cape.

The report, which is compiled from information supplied by the provinces, also shows that at least 13 000 houses have been damaged across the country, the state BuaNews agency reports. KwaZulu-Natal has the highest figure, with 4799 houses damaged. In the Free State, estimates are that between 1400 and 1500 shacks have been washed away. In the Eastern Cape, North West and Limpopo the numbers are in the thousands, while Gauteng estimates are between 400 and 500 formal and informal houses that have been damaged.

In terms of damage to infrastructure, the Free State has estimated the cost to be in the region of R7.7 billion as schools, water dams, bridges, roads, electricity poles and telephone lines have been destroyed. “While damage to the water drainage system in Gauteng was of high concern, it is not yet clear how much it will cost to repair,” BuaNews says. According to the South African Weather Services, the rain in Gauteng is set to continue over the next seven days.

Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini on Sunday said in addition to flooding, disasters befalling communities have included tornadoes, lightning-strikes and hailstorms. In addition, veld fires and severe drought are also reported in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and the Western Cape provinces. “To date, in the present day materialistic world, media statements and reports, except in the case of fatalities, have predominantly focused on the impact of the natural disasters on property, infrastructure and certain sectors of the economy, yet these disasters are occasioned by devastating effects on the human condition of many poor communities, households and individuals. Many of these have been displaced, with countless of them having lost their only possessions. Properly construed, the situation calls for a concrete humanitarian response. Without sounding alarmist, I would like to highlight the fact that we are in a race against time to respond to the humanitarian needs of those affected,” she said in a statement.