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City checks on flood damage
17 January 2011

There have been more floods in Johannesburg, prompting the City’s emergency management services and other stakeholders to set up a joint operations centre.

THIS summer’s heavy rains – initially seen as a blessing after the dry winter months and as an antidote to the scorching summer heat – are wreaking havoc across the country, and Joburg is no exception.

 

People should avoid crossing flooded rivers
People should avoid crossing flooded rivers
Already, flash floods have poured through Ivory Park and Ebony Park, Rabie Ridge and the surrounding areas. These regions were visited by Johannesburg emergency management services (EMS) personnel on 17 January, who went to check the damage.

 

A month earlier, on 20 December, the mayor 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 in the early morning of 16 December, Reconciliation Day.

The EMS spokesperson, Percy Morokane, has blamed the relentless rain for the flash floods. "These heavy rains have caused structural damage and since some of the houses have collapsed, the floods damaged household goods. We [ask] our people who live in low-lying areas to move to higher grounds to avoid unnecessary death."

Morokane said the City had set up a joint operations centre with stakeholders from the Johannesburg Roads Agency, metro police, departments of community development and housing, ward councillors from the affected areas and the South African Police Service.

“The centre will facilitate and co-ordinate all operations, including relocation and the welfare of all affected people. We are currently relooking at our contingency plans so that there is not a repeat of incidents that have occurred in the past.”

Areas in Joburg that are prone to flooding include: Klipspruit, Eldorado South, Dube, Mofolo, Meadowlands and Bram Fischerville, some parts of Orange Farm, Lenasia South, areas around Florida Lake, Rivonia and Witkoppen roads in Sunninghill, Stjwetla Informal Settlement along the Jukskei River, London Road in Alexandra, and the Kaalrivier in Ivory Park.

Disaster committee
On 15 and 16 January, the national government organised an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Disaster Management, which discussed relief mechanisms as the possibility grew of more flooding in various parts of the country as the heavy rains continued.

The committee is chaired by Cooperative Governance Minister Sicelo Shiceka and is made up of representatives of the departments of Water, Environmental Affairs, Health, Basic Education, Agriculture, Social Development, Police, Human Settlements and Tourism.

Shiceka is expected to declare certain areas of the country national states of disaster at a briefing today.

President Jacob Zuma has thanked disaster management teams for their efforts over the previous weeks and has reminded communities in low-lying areas to be vigilant. "Government will do everything it can to avoid loss of life as a result of floods and urges everyone to co-operate with disaster management personnel as they respond to disasters," he said.

Scientists at the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre have identified summer 2010/2011 as a La Niña year, and have warned of increased risks of flooding in southern Africa. They completed an update at the end of last year, reporting: “The La Niña event that emerged mid-June 2010 has developed into a moderate to strong event, and is expected to last through the first three or four months of 2011.”

In the southern part of Africa, La Niña usually brings normal or above-normal rainfall, according to the South African Weather Service website.

With heavy rain predicted to continue in the city over the next two weeks, residents are urged to stay safe and report flooding to the National Disaster Management Centre on 012 336 5742 or on 10177.

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