Yoliswa Dube-Moyo, Mat South Bureau Chief
FAMILIES in Matekenya Village, Gwanda District, Matabeleland South Province are in desperate need of assistance after they lost their homes, livestock and crops following a heavy downpour which pounded the area on Boxing Day.
The heavy rains accompanied by strong winds destroyed several homes and livestock was struck by lightning while trees were uprooted.
Families were left with no food or shelter and had to brave wet clothes over their backs. The rains completely destroyed their crops leaving nothing to salvage.
The Gwanda District Civil Protection Unit is mobilising resources for the 25 affected families.
The district CPU chairperson and acting District Development Co-ordinator Mr Thulani Moyo said the heavy rains and strong winds uprooted trees and left people with no shelter.
“Some people are trying to rebuild their homes that have been destroyed by the rains. We have already assessed the extent of the damage and have noted that crops have been destroyed,” said Mr Moyo. He said many homes were destroyed and some families were left without a single building.
Mr Moyo said such families were sleeping in the open thereby exposing especially children to the vagaries of weather.
“Their clothes were all wet while their food is no longer fit for human consumption as it was soaked.
One of the families which has eight children, is now dealing with a sick child who has a cough as a result of the cold,” said Mr Moyo.
People who witnessed the heavy rains, he said, were traumatised and needed psycho-social support. “They need assistance with food and shelter. We’ve also noted that the villagers had cut down all the trees and their homes were now exposed. There are no trees which are supposed to be wind breakers.”
Mr Moyo said some of the displaced villagers were putting up with neighbours whose houses were not destroyed as efforts were being made to find them alternative accommodation.
“We’ve received some foodstuffs from CPU and Red Cross which we’re distributing. Those whose homes were completely destroyed are living with neighbours,” he said.
Mr Moyo bemoaned the types of shelter in the village saying it is substandard and vulnerable to harsh weather conditions.
“Their structures were very weak and there’s need for us to help them build standardised homes,” he said.
One of the affected villagers, Mr Senele Zondo said the rains hit while he and his family were having dinner and they had to seek refuge inside the toilet.
“We had just finished eating when a whirlwind swept through. It then started raining heavily and my eight-year-old child and I sought shelter inside the toilet after realising our hut would not withstand the storm. After we got out of the toilet, we headed for our neighbour’s house,” he said.
Mr Zondo’s home was completely destroyed while several of his livestock were struck by lightning.
Another affected villager, Ms Virginia Moyo appealed for a tent as temporary shelter.
“At this point even a tent will do. I need shelter so that my children have somewhere to sleep. I will also need help with building materials so that I can rebuild my home,” said Ms Moyo.
She said trees were uprooted during the thunderstorm.
“We ran next door and sought refuge there. Just as we got to our neighbours house, a goat was struck by lightning. Our crops were completely destroyed and we’ve been left with nothing,” said Ms Moyo.
Matabeleland South Province has in recent times recorded a number of incidents where roofs of schools, clinics, hospitals and homes have been blown away by strong winds during thunderstorms.
Two weeks ago, Bengo Primary School pupils in Gwanda South were left in the open after part of the school’s roofing was blown off. St Anne’s Hospital and Tshelanyemba Mission Hospital were also affected.
Manama Mission Hospital is undergoing repairs after infrastructure and buildings were extensively damaged by a violent storm in October.
Roofs of several wards that include the maternity ward were blown off following the heavy rains accompanied by strong winds.
The storm left the hospital without electricity after solar panels were damaged forcing the hospital to suspend critical services. – @Yolisswa.
Article Source: The Chronicle