Relief for Cyclone Eloise battered communities

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

With Cyclone Eloise having subsided on Monday evening, the national and provincial governments in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal have activated relief interventions to assist communities left devastated by the cyclone.

The tropical rains experienced in the three provinces over the weekend were a culmination of Cyclone Eloise, which began in the Indian Ocean in Mozambique last week.

Before the storm battered the eastern provinces, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, said national and provincial emergency services and emergency centres were activated by the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Disasters.

“[They were] mobilised so that we could be ready for the storm. When the Ministers met on Saturday, officials were already meeting, guided by the information they were receiving from the South African Weather Service,” she said. 

The hardest hit districts include Vhembe and Mopani in Limpopo, Ehlanzeni in Mpumalanga and those in the far-north in KZN.

The cyclone uprooted trees, blocking roads, and buildings were destroyed, with lives being lost.

“Emergency services have been very responsive but some communities have been cut off. Some municipalities are dealing with that. Some government buildings have been affected by the storm, including bridges, and people in those areas are not able to cross,” said Dlamini-Zuma.

She expressed appreciation to the search and rescue teams for their efforts.

“We have been coordinated because the Disaster Management Centre nationally has been coordinating with the disaster management centres in those three provinces. We are tracking the storm.

“We are told that the tropical storm has moved to Botswana, but it is coming back again and maybe more provinces, such as the North West and maybe the Free State and KZN, may be affected again,” she said.

Government is now in the process of assessing the damage.

“Families that needed to be helped have been helped but we are assessing the damage in all the districts that been affected, so that we can activate short-term measures to assist and relieve the pressure.

“Government is working with NGOs, and a team of Ministers and MECs and local leaders,” Dlamini-Zuma said. 

Ezekiel Sibeko, from the South African Weather Service (SAWS), confirmed that the storm has moved to parts of Botswana.

“It has lost most of its intensity, however, still causing some rain over the western parts of the North West today.

“Moving further, from Wednesday, the remains of this storm are expected to merge with another weather system, and [there will be] potential heavy rain over the eastern parts of the Northern Cape, parts of the North West, Free State, as well as the eastern part of the Eastern Cape.

"We are currently monitoring the situation and warnings will be issued.”

Currently, Sibeko said, it is still cloudy in Limpopo, KZN and Mpumalanga but little rain is expected in the coming days.

Limpopo COGTA MEC, Basikopo Makamu, said the tropical storm has subsided today in the Vhembe and Capricorn Districts, adding that teams have been deployed.

“The situation was largely under control, with the exception of a few bridges that were washed away.”

The situation is the same in Mpumalanga, where the storm claimed the life of a five-year-old boy, who was swept away by a heavy current while trying to cross a river.

Two other people are the subject of a South African Police Service (SAPS) search and rescue mission after they went missing on Monday.

In KZN, said COGTA MEC Sipho Hlomuka, a 14-year-old drowned at the weekend. 

“We have provided short-term intervention. We’ve made sure that people have shelter. 

“We’re working together as government and providing support to save lives.” –