Cogta relief teams on standby for predicted Cyclone Freddy

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) is preparing for any eventuality after an announcement that Cyclone Freddy is expected to bring heavy rains and strong winds in northeastern parts of South Africa from Saturday, Deputy Minister Thembi Nkadimeng has said.

Nkadimeng appealed to communities that may be affected by Cyclone Freddy to heed warnings and evacuate whenever it is necessary.

“Listen more to the notices of evacuations, stay safe, and don’t try to cross any streams. One of the cases in Nkomazi [local municipality] was [of] a learner who was trying to cross a stream, he’s still missing,” Nkadimeng said.

“We have had six fatalities in that area alone, and 11 in the entirety of Mpumalanga [as a result of the current flooding]. One life is one too many, so we need to stay clear of the streams.

“Our teams are on the ground, as well as humanitarian relief, readying ourselves for Friday and Saturday in any eventuality that we may need to evacuate more people.”

She said Cyclone Freddy is expected to add more pressure on infrastructure and homes that have already been battered by recent torrential rains, noting that the predicted cyclone could set back ongoing relief efforts.

“It is anticipated that it will continue pouring in Mpumalanga. We are already sitting at about 1 929 houses that must be [provided] for human settlement relief, only in Mpumalanga.

“So you can see that if we are going to combine a budget for human settlement relief and development for all the seven [affected] provinces, we are going to be ranging into serious billions of rands in terms of what we need to repair.”

Turning to current relief efforts, she said Cogta has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa and requested that the army intervenes in disaster relief efforts in flood-hit Eastern Cape.

Heavy rains have battered several provinces over the past two weeks, leading to the president declaring a national state of disaster to ensure an accelerated response from the government.

“I visited Nkomazi, which is the hardest-hit [area] in Mpumalanga. We are assessing about six municipalities there, and we are estimating damages going into almost R1-billion. The Eastern Cape has already [been] rounded up and estimated [that it will cost] billions [of rands] as well.

She also reflected on the immense damage that flooding has caused across the country.

“Water infrastructure has been damaged and villages have not been receiving water. Roads have been damaged and farmers have lost livestock. “Just in Nkomazi alone, 5 650 cattle and goats have been lost, 119 farming equipment has been lost … and on estimation that will cost about R200-million for the farmers to deal with the damage.

“So, it’s quite [a lot] of damage that has happened and it will cost us a great deal to repair.” –

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