South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday declared a national state of disaster over the flooding that has left a trail of destruction in seven of the country’s nine provinces.Presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said the declaration of the national state of disaster was meant to enable “an intensive, coordinated response to the impact of floods that are affecting Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Northern Cape and North West” provinces.
“The National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) has, in terms of Section 23 of the Disaster Management Act, classified the impact of current, above-normal rainfall in various parts of the country – with Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape as the most affected – as a national disaster,” Magwenya said.
He said the NDMC had received reports of flooded homes, vehicles swept away by floodwaters and overflowing dams, and damage to roads, bridges and a Limpopo hospital.
“In agriculture, farmers have suffered crop and livestock losses, and anticipate further losses as the South African Weather Service predicts that current heavy rains will persist.”
He warned that South Africans should brace for more rains due to the presence of the La Niña weather phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean that causes heavy rains in the southern hemisphere.
“With the continued strengthening of the La Niña event, the country can expect above-normal rainfall and below-normal temperatures over the summer rainfall areas,” Magwenya said.
He added: “Taken together, these conditions demand the provision of temporary shelters, food and blankets to homeless families and individuals and the large-scale, costly rehabilitation of infrastructure.”
National entities, including the police and the defence forces, would be marshalled to assist in response to the disaster.