As rains are expected to continue across large swathes of Zimbabwe, flood-prone areas have been put on alert while rescue efforts are underway after one person was killed and at least 21 families marooned in Binga.
Outside Binga District, civil protection units countrywide reported no serious flooding or damage.
The Meteorological Services Department has forecast the possibility of heavy rains in some parts of the country, with some areas expected to receive more than 50 millimetres within 24 hours.
The department said there will be continuous heavy rains across the west and south in Masvingo, Midlands, Bulawayo Metropolitan, and Matabeleland North and South.
Department of Civil Protection director, Mr Nathan Nkomo, confirmed the Binga floods and said units on the ground had been activated to attend to the affected area.
“Reports we have just received from Binga show that heavy rains affected Chizarira National Park and floods affected the communities downstream in Nsungwale area under Chief Sinakoma.
“The flooded area is where four rivers meet: Sibwambwa, Sikanda, Namapanda and Manyenyengwa. The 21 families in the flood plain were marooned. Eleven others were assisted to reach safer zones. An elderly man was swept away and his body was later recovered.
“The rapid assessment by the District Protection Committee indicated that there could be more people affected considering the general settlement patterns in Binga,” said Mr Nkomo.
Two helicopters have been mobilised from the Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) to assist the affected families.
“We are also mobilising the police sub-aqua unit stationed at Fairbridge in Bulawayo to come on board. The District Civil Protection Unit was directed to intensify their assessment until they ascertain the actual number of people affected and those in need of assistance,” he said.
Mr Nkomo said all the affected families would be evacuated, while the mobilisation of food and non-food items continued.
“We are appealing for more food and non-food items for the affected families considering the high destruction of their pole and dagga houses.
“The District Civil Protection Unit should continue monitoring the health and general welfare of the people for the possible outbreak of waterborne diseases.
“We are also looking at the possible relocation of affected families backed by a robust rural housing delivery programme to address the issues of sub-standard materials used. The same exercise was done in Tsholotsho and we have not received cases of flooding affecting households in that area,” he said.
Masvingo CPU provincial chair, Mr Fungai Mbetsa, said although there were no reports of flash floods or landslides due to incessant rains across the province, teams remained on high alert. Reports showed that all districts were receiving rains with some of them recording heavy downpours.
Mr Mbetsa, who is the also provincial development coordinator, advised people to make use of CPU teams near them in the event of any disaster.
“Although we have not received any report of looming disaster, we are not sitting on our laurels as weather experts have warned of heavy and destructive rains,” he said.
Mr Mbetsa advised those living in low-lying areas to move to higher ground.
In Beitbridge, the district has been receiving substantial rains for the past three days, but no flooding had been reported.
The DCPU chairperson, Mrs Sikhangazile Mafu-Moyo, said they were monitoring the situation in all low-lying areas. She advised people to report incidents of flooding or damage of property to ward risk and disaster management committees as and when they occur.
“We have been receiving normal rainfall across the district and we are yet to receive any untoward reports. Since the onset of the rainy season, we have been educating people on safety and risk management issues,” she said. Areas prone to flooding include Tshikwalakwala, Tshithuriphasi, Tshipise (Ward One), Tshaswingo (Ward Three), Tongwe (Ward Four), Shashe (Ward Eight), Makakavhule (Ward Six) and Lesanth, Bubi (Ward 13). Most of these areas are located along the Limpopo, Shashe, Bubi and Umzingwane Rivers.
Midlands provincial CPU chairperson, Mr Abiot Maronge warned villagers in flood-prone areas to be on high alert. “We would like to warn artisanal miners working in disused mines not to venture underground for their illegal activities. It is not safe to operate underground under these wet conditions,” said Mr Maronge.
Mashonaland West CPU chairperson, Mrs Cecilia Chitiyo, said: “It has been raining in all parts of the province but no reports of flooding or destruction of property have been recorded.”
Mashonaland Central principal administration officer Mr Irvine Kanerusine, said they were closely monitoring developments in flood-prone Muzarabani and Mbire districts. He said heavy rains accompanied with strong winds were recorded in the Musengezi area of Mbire, but there were no reports of damage to property.
In Manicaland, no reports of flooding had been received.