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People are moving back to their homes as flood waters subside; however, there are predictions of more heavy rain to come and residents are urged to take precautions.
WITH the relentless rain showing no signs of easing up, it’s all hands on deck as those displaced by the floods in Joburg return to their homes and relief aid is distributed.


For some flood victims, life is getting back to normalFor some flood victims, life is getting back to normalPercy Morokane, the emergency management services (EMS) spokesperson, explained that at present, the number one priority was the welfare of all those affected. The disaster unit is carrying out post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation, which among other things, will ensure that it is safe to return to flooded areas and will co-ordinate the distribution of relief aid.

Businesses and non-governmental organisations have stepped in to help. Checkers, the supermarket chain, provided a soup kitchen and the Red Cross and Gift of the Givers played a major role in the collection and distribution of aid. The National Lottery Board also stepped up, and contributed R50-million to help flood victims around South Africa.

“We are obviously concerned about the suffering of those affected by the recent floods, many of whom are lottery players, and the NLB wants to assist as much as we can,” said the chairperson of the board, Alfred Nevhutanda.

Gift of the Givers provides humanitarian assistance wherever there is a disaster; it distributed aid at the Themba Khoza informal settlement near Ivory Park on 25 and 26 January. The parcels consisted of a bag of maize meal, rice, beans, sugar, tea bags and cooking oil, while the hygiene pack included toothpaste, dishwashing liquid, washing powder and petroleum jelly, among other items.

On 17 January, 43 families in Themba Khoza, which is built on the banks of the Kaal River, were displaced by flash floods. The families were temporarily placed at the Ivory Park police station, and then sheltered at a local community hall. But they had since returned home as the area was deemed habitable, Morokane said.

He explained that the community and its ward councillors had also resolved to take the necessary steps to move to a safer area.

While Morokane could not assure residents that the worst was over, he was adamant that the disaster management team was prepared should more floods occur, and that the team had been ready since the beginning of summer in 2010.

Heavy rainfall had been predicted for December, prompting the team to risk map the communities most likely to be affected by floods, namely those in low-lying areas, along flood lines and on river banks. Disaster management then linked with the South African Weather Service, which has developed a Flash Flood Guidance System that will be used to alert the team should any flash floods be predicted.


Help is on hand for flood victims some of whom were left without homesHelp is on hand for flood victims whose homes were destroyedIn the beginning of December, all City entities formed a joint operations centre to manage all responses regarding floods and disaster control, including the relocation and the welfare of all those affected.

On 20 December, Executive Mayor Amos Masondo led a delegation to check on damage caused by floods in Alexandra, Orlando West and Kliptown. Klipspruit and Kya Sands informal settlement were also affected. Floods had hit the areas in the early morning of 16 December, Reconciliation Day.

Morokane said the disaster management team was currently focusing on creating awareness and advising those people hit by the floods.

The heavy rains experienced all over South Africa have wreaked havoc and left many destitute; some 88 people were killed. The Ministry for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs has “tightened its grip on floods with various co-ordination structures across the country", according to the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS).

The ministry chairs the inter-ministerial committee tasked with dealing with the floods.

"Government across all three spheres has intensified its humanitarian efforts in various areas that are affected by floods. A National Joint Committee, which has been established by [Co-operative Governance] to co-ordinate support to victims and minimise loss of lives, has put in place systems to activate swift assistance to local authorities when the need arises," said a statement issued by the GCIS.

With the South African Weather Service predicting heavy rain well into next week, residents are advised to stay safe and report flooding to the National Disaster Management Centre on 012 336 5742 or on 10177.

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