Coordinated approach to bring relief to flood-affected communities

Sunday, April 28, 2019

People are working around the clock to restore life to normalcy in the flood-ravaged areas of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

Assessments are underway to determine the overall cost of the damage.

Hundreds of people in the two provinces were affected by the extreme flooding which caused tragic loss of life and severe devastation.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Minister Zweli Mkhize went on a fact-finding and assessment visit to the Eastern Cape on Saturday.

Following the visit, the Minister said there was an integrated coordinated approach to bring relief to affected communities and to ensure effective and impactful intervention.

Resources are being mobilised and government will also, as part of emergency support, distribute funding to the affected.

“The rebuilding of infrastructure in the long-term will surely contribute to bringing the situation back to normal for people in the affected provinces.

“We have written to all affected departments requesting them to ensure that critical infrastructure and essential services are prioritised as many communities remain cut off from towns and don't have access to services and amenities due to damaged roads and bridges. Others have lost Identity Documents and cannot access government services, and all of that is being prioritised,” said Minister Mkhize.

Joint Operational Centres have been established in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape where government departments and all stakeholders meet daily to take stock and assess the provision of humanitarian assistance and critical infrastructure restoration to affected communities.

The Minister visited Port St Johns, Lusikisiki and Mbizana to assess the damage in his capacity as the political head responsible for disaster management in Cabinet.

In Port St Johns, the Minister visited Green Farm settlement, which was heavily flooded and many of the residents have lost their possessions. There he directed the local municipality to work with the community to find solutions to the current challenges.

“The settlement is located in a valley that receives water from the high areas that surround it. From the assessment, Green Farm will always provide challenges due to the topography of the area and its location,” said Minister Mkhize.

From Green Farm, the Minister visited two families in Lusikisiki who lost their loved ones. Two school children tragically drowned.

In Mbizana, the Minister inspected the damaged roads infrastructure which is restricting the movement of the people, including some bridges that were washed away or damaged. The community is also still reeling from the death of a 39-year-old woman.

Mkhize experienced the serious challenge caused by the absence of a bridge over the Mdlankala River which cuts across to the Mdlankala village. The recent floods have made matters worse as the communities cannot cross to either side for schooling, medical care or other services.

He has directed the municipalities, both district and local, to ensure that the bridge is built as per the previous promises made to the community a few years ago.

A number of people who were evacuated and have been sheltered at the town hall in Port St Johns are trying to restore their lives, piece by piece. In a statement, the department said government thanks the public, non-governmental organisations and churches for their support.

The Minister has conveyed heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of the bereaved and wished those injured speedy a recovery.

“Looking at the extent of the damage, it is clear that if government, communities and other stakeholders did not spring into action and assist, the loss would have been beyond the current one, to this effect, we thank everyone for their contribution,” said Minister Mkhize. –