COMMENT: Disaster management systems must always be in place

The Chronicle

AS we reported yesterday, the Meteorological Service Department (MSD) has identified 13 districts in the northern parts of the country that will be affected by a depressed tropical cyclone Ana, which landed in mainland Mozambique on Monday.

The downgraded Tropical Storm Ana will affect Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi.

Malawi’s government on Monday suspended classes in all schools in the southern districts of the country in the wake of the tropical cyclone.

In Mozambique, the National Delegation of Hydraulic Resources Management (DNGRH) issued a flood risk alert for increased rainfall starting January 25 and a flood risk for the Zambeze, Buzi, Pungoé, Licungo, Ligonha, Meluli, Montepuez, Messalo, and Megaruma river basins as well as the coastal areas of Zambézia, Nampula, and Cabo Delgado Provinces.

Locally, districts such as Chipinge, Chimanimani, Mutare, Mutasa, Nyanga, Mudzi, Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe, Rushinga, Mt Darwin, Centenary, Mbire, Northern Hurungwe and Kariba Districts are expected to be affected by tropical cyclone Ana.

In a statement, MSD said the cyclone will cause heavy rains in the districts despite losing strength when it made a landfall in Mozambique.

“Tropical Storm Ana hit the Mozambican coast around noon near the town of Angoche with maximum gusts estimated at 110km/h and central pressure of 990 hectoPascals. This falling over land turned the tropical storm into an overland depression, which is now losing strength,” reads the statement.

“However, strong winds will still continue near the centre for the next few hours before fading. Heavy rains are likely to cause flash floods, landslides and floods, and are moving westward and will continue affecting Mozambique and southern Malawi over the next 12 hours, then proceed to influence weather over northern Zimbabwe and southern Zambia.”

We urge Zimbabweans in the 13 district to take heed of MSD and Civil Protection Unit (CPU) advice.

People living in unsafe buildings should move to safer shelter while condemned structures can be destroyed in advance.

Drivers in particular, must avoid unnecessary travel and not attempt to cross flooded rivers. The MSD predicts that the country will receive excessive rains of above 50mm in the affected districts, which is too much as a vehicle can be washed away by about 30mm of rain.

Communication lines must also be kept open so that the CPU can react on time in case of eventualities.

It is also pleasing to note that Government has instructed the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) to release 50 tonnes of maize to all the country’s provinces to cater for those that might be affected by floods.

However, Government cannot do everything alone. The private sector must also step up to the challenges facing the country and chip in where it can.

If loss of life is avoided, this storm could turn into a blessing as it could help in increasing water levels in the country’s dams.

The downgraded tropical cyclone Ana will serve as a test for the CPU. Disaster management systems must always be in place, especially in these times of unpredictable weather patterns caused by global warming.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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