Elita Chikwati and Cletus Mushanawani
Heavy rains and strong winds brought into Zimbabwe by tropical depression Ana damaged at least eight houses and two institutional buildings in Manicaland yesterday, with rainfall exceeding 100mm in places along the Mozambique border.
Initial reports suggest some scattered damage, with the heavy rains and strong winds expected to ease off from tomorrow.
The Department of Civil Protection said yesterday that some trees were uprooted in Nyanga and Chimanimani, which continued to receive heavy rains. Yesterday, the Meteorological Services Department said highest falls recorded at Nyanga (121mm), Chisengu (80mm), Nyamaropa (32mm), Mutare (28mm) and Mukandi (25mm) although there were unofficial reports of falls above 100mm in other border areas.
DCP director Mr Nathan Nkomo yesterday said five houses in Mutasa, three in Chimanimani and two institutional buildings in Nyanga were affected by the rains.
At Nyafaru High School in Nyanga, pupils sitting for final examinations were marooned as rivers and tributaries had overflowed.
“We asked the headmaster of the boarding school to take care of the welfare of the affected day pupils and our department will meet the extra costs,” said Mr Nkomo.
He said they had received tents from the United Nations, which would be distributed to teachers at Keche Primary School in Muzarabani where houses were damaged by rains before the coming in of tropical depression Ana. The tents have a capacity of four rooms.
Mr Nkomo said it was worrisome that
Chimanimani had continued to receive heavy rains above 100mm.
“We have alerted the Secretary for Provincial Affairs to inform people around Chisengu that if the area starts flooding, we can assist,” he said.
Nyanga District Development Coordinator Mr Nyashadzashe Zindowe said some roads in the district were blocked by falling trees but these were being cleared. “Some roads like at Troutbeck Resort were impassable after trees had blocked the road. We managed to clear that road after getting assistance from Dongo Sawmills.”
Allied Timbers spokesperson Ms Veronica Gutu said some plantations were damaged but had no detailed figures.
Dongo Sawmills owner Mr Francis Dongo said: “The damage in plantations is extensive. Most players in the industry will be left counting their losses. Some pine and gum trees were uprooted, while others fell because of the strong winds.”
While Chipinge has seen heavy rains, there has been no serious damage reported but the Chipinge district civil protection committee yesterday was ready for any emergency. It activated its committees and systems in anticipation of floods that may be caused by the heavy rains and set up evacuation centres in all wards in case they were needed.
Low-lying areas of the district such as Chisumbanje and Middle Sabi received continuous rains for the greater part of the day, while heavy downpours were recorded in areas like Ndiyadzo, Mt Selinda and Chipinge town.
Assistant district development coordinator, Mr Tedious Beto, called on Government departments with vehicles to be on standby as their vehicles could be deployed to affected areas any time.
“We have identified evacuation centres such as schools. So far no major damage has been recorded. We are, however, urging the public to be on high alert.”
Moderate tropical storm Ana made landfall on Monday over the north coast of Mozambique and dumped a lot of moisture in northern Mozambique before turning into an overland depression.
“This overland depression is moving westward along the Zambezi Valley, causing heavy rain along its path. However, the extent of its cloud cover and moisture covered much of the country with heavier falls along the Eastern Highlands due to orographic rainfall under the influence of a south-easterly airflow,” said the Met Ddepartment.
Today, heavy rains in excess 50mm and strong winds are expected in Mashonaland West and Manicaland Provinces.
Harare Metropolitan, Midlands, Bulawayo Metropolitan, Masvingo and all Matabeleland provinces, are anticipated to have light rains and moderate to strong winds.
The public has been advised to stay away from swollen rivers and not to drive through floodwaters as just 30cm of flowing water is enough to sweep away a vehicle.
“Ensure roof tops are secure by checking nails that may be loose. Secure all loose items that are outside, where possible place them in a safe storage space,” warned the MSD.