‘Eastern Cape floods only tip of the iceberg’

Eastern Cape – The recent floods experienced in the Eastern Cape are just the beginning, and the province is still going to experience further severe weather, as well as drought in certain areas, according to Linda Makuleni, the former CEO of SA Weather Service.

“In South Africa, we have what we call climate variability. At times we have floods and other times we have droughts. In one area it’s dry and in other areas it’s wet,” she said.

Since December, the Eastern Cape has experienced a number of natural disasters that have caused severe damage to homes, public infrastructure, schools, clinics, and loss of lives and livestock.

At least 17 people died and hundreds were displaced after the Buffalo City metro was hit by torrential rains last Saturday, which resulted in severe flooding.

The Eastern Cape government declared a state of disaster and submitted its declaration to the National Disaster Management Centre for further assessment in order to mobilize necessary resources and ensure the provision of adequate support to affected communities.

Several interventions were carried out around Buffalo City where scores of people recently lost their lives and homes.

The government’s immediate call was to urge those who had homes in low-lying areas, which were swept away by the floods, to move into temporary shelters.

But some people raised concerns with Human Settlements Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi when visited the area.

They accused the government of only making provisions for those who were displaced and whose shacks were swept away.

They also said there were no provisions for those who were affected but whose shacks had survived the floods, but who were still living in unsuitable areas.

Other residents told Kubayi that they were housing beneficiaries but their homes were illegally occupied and vandalized before being completed or occupied by the rightful beneficiaries.

Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane acknowledges this problem and mistakes in the proper identification of housing beneficiaries.

Kubayi gave the Eastern Cape department of human settlements a month to evict all illegal occupants in order to accommodate disaster victims.

Makuleni said municipalities in the province and the entire country needed to work closely with the SA Weather Service and put in place science-based disaster management plans.

Limpopo has also experienced numerous flash floods episodes, as has KwaZulu-Natal.

The agriculture department in KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday said the cost of damage to farms affected by severe weather conditions and flash flooding in the province was estimated at billions of rand.

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