HARARE – After praying for much-needed rains for years, the drought-prone Matabeleland region is counting the cost of flash floods which have left a trail of destruction in the area after violent Cyclone Dineo storms swept through southern Africa over the past two days.
The storms, which have killed seven people and left about 130 000 more destitute in neighbouring Mozambique, reached Zimbabwe on Friday — bringing with them a deluge of rainfall and devastating flash floods in the three regions of Matabeleland, Manicaland and Masvingo.
“This weather system is expected to give rise to incessant rains resulting in increased risk of flooding and damage to homes and infrastructure.
“Communities in Insiza District (in Matabeleland) must maintain vigilance as the entire river systems are full and walls of some of the small dams have failed as the district received in excess of 82mm of rainfall over 24 hours, and it continues to rain,” the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) warned yesterday.
Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere also said the cyclone had left considerable damage in Matabeleland South, including flooding as a result of dams bursting their banks.
“Insiza South districts and Filabusi Water Station have been seriously affected by flooding after Waneka Dam failed,” Kasukuwere said on micro-blogging site, Twitter.
The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) advised that Mtshabezi Dam, one of the city’s main water supply sources, as well as Upper Ncema, were now spilling.
“The Upper Ncema Dam has reached the 100 percent mark and is now spilling. This morning, the dam was at 74,55 percent and was at 99 percent by late afternoon,” BCC said yesterday.
Former Education minister David Coltart, also revealed on Twitter the intensity of the rain which had hit Matabeleland, revealing how he was swept by floods of almost similar proportion in 1978.
“In the source of the Matsheumhlope River where I live, Burnside, it is raining lions and hyenas, if not cats and dogs. #Dineo.
“On Friday, February 17, 1978 I was swept off the Cecil Avenue bridge when crossing the Matsheumhlope in my lime green VW Beetle … just saying,” Coltart said.
The heavy downpour prevented many pupils from going to school in Bulawayo, while the high density suburbs of Nkulumane, Emganwini and Cowdray Park reported major flash floods which damaged property.
In Manicaland’s Chimanimani District, torrential downpours pounded the area on Thursday evening, causing rivers to burst their banks.
In Chipinge, refugees at the low-lying Tongogara Camp had to be evacuated to higher ground on the same day amid fears that they would drown.
Manicaland CPU chairperson and provincial administrator Edgar Seenza, told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that the region remained vulnerable although the rains had started subsiding.
In 2000, Manicaland experienced its worst floods in living memory when Cyclone Eline left a trail of destruction, including killing more than 136 people and damaging 59 184 houses and huts.