At least one person died after being swept away by flash floods in Chipinge while another died in Odzi on Wednesday after being struck by lightning.
Several houses and schools in Chipinge and parts of Buhera had their roofs blown off by heavy winds and rains that have swept across parts of Manicaland in the last 48 hours. Nyanga also recorded hailstorms on Thursday, although no damage has yet been reported.
This has prompted the province to step up its disaster preparedness and start pressing for everyone to build houses and schools that meet ordinary construction standards so are not damaged by storms.
Zimbabwe is hit by storms every year, and heavy rain causes flash floods, needing people to take precautions if they are crossing rivers.
Provincial chief meteorological officer Mr Lucas Murambi confirmed that the department had received the reports of flash flooding in Chipinge and hailstorms in Nyanga.
“I have not yet received a report on the damages in Nyanga. In Chipinge, there was flash flooding in the valley (Save Valley) and I understand the district development coordinator and civil protection committee have gone there to carry out damage analysis,” he said.
Chipinge ward 22 councillor Ms Evelyn Mhuru said Mr George Sithole (65) was swept away while trying to cross a flooded river following heavy rains in the area on Thursday afternoon.
“As he tried to cross the river, he slipped and was swept away. His body was only discovered at around midnight yesterday (Thursday) after villagers spent the whole day searching for him,” she said.
She said the roof of classroom blocks at a local school were blown off by heavy winds.
Manicaland Provincial Coordinator Mr Edgars Seenza, who is the chairperson of the provincial civil protection committee, said the damage recorded so far calls for a holistic approach to disaster management.
“Unfortunately we have already started receiving reports of destruction. So far we have received reports from Buhera where three households had the roofs of their huts blown off by heavy wind. The families have been given tents to provide shelter. In Chipinge we also heard that two households were also affected yesterday in Chidzururungwi village and they also require assistance,” he said.
He said a team had been dispatched to carry out assessments on the actual number of people who have been affected since there could be more cases that have not yet been reported.
Mr Seenza said the province has come up with a contingency plan aimed at mobilising the resources required to respond to rainfall related disasters more effectively and efficiently.
The plan had been submitted to the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing. Communities had also been sensitised on how to respond in the event of disasters to avoid loss of lives.
“The fundamental issue is that people are constructing substandard structures prone to destruction by strong winds,” he said.
“Even some of the schools we have are not inspected by the local authorities to make sure that they are built to standard. This is why we are appealing to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to make sure that buildings are inspected by local authorities and the department of public works so that we have resilient structures that resist weather elements.” – Herald