The emergency management services is always on standby to help, but there are actions people can take to stay safe, residents hear.
TIPS on staying safe during the heavy rainstorms pounding Joburg were given by Elgina Ndhlovu, the member of the mayoral committee for public safety, on a tour of Soweto and Ivory Park on Wednesday, 19 January.
People can protect themselves from floods, says MMC Elgina NdhlovuPeople can protect themselves from floods, says MMC Elgina NdhlovuNdhlovu met and spoke to many residents from these areas whose lives have been devastated by the floods. She was on a mission to assess the damage caused by flooding. Floods resulting from heavy rains over the past few weeks have displaced many people and damaged homes and possessions.
The City’s emergency management services (EMS) was on heightened alert, she added.
“Although the EMS will be there to perform rescues during emergency situations, residents can protect themselves against the dangers that accompany heavy rains … Nobody can stop floods but there are actions that can be taken to protect [oneself].”
Joburg recently set up a joint operations centre and a flood management task team to deal with any flood-related disasters. The centre facilitates and co-ordinates all operations, including relocating and caring for people affected by floods.
Ndhlovu appealed to people to be alert and to keep a close eye on their environment. “Never underestimate the forces of nature or overestimate a person’s own ability.”
In the past week, floods have poured through Protea South, Kliptown, Klipspruit, Orlando West, Meadowlands, Freedom Charter Square and Nancefield. Ivory Park and informal settlements such as Themba Khoza, Baghdad, Kaalfontein and Ebony Park have experienced heavy flooding.
Since Monday, about 43 families have been evacuated from Ivory Park. Many affected families have been temporarily placed in community halls and schools.
Rivers and streams can become raging torrens after heavy downpoursRivers and streams can become raging torrents after heavy downpoursNdhlovu encouraged people to stick to higher ground when outdoors.
“Heavy thunderstorms resulting in flash floods are a feature of Johannesburg during the summer season … Rivers and streams in the city often turn into raging torrents within minutes, placing the lives of people in serious danger.”
Flash floods can often occur within a few minutes of a heavy downpour. The force of water can be accelerated by factors such as blocked storm water drains or fallen trees and other obstacles in a river’s path.
Ndhlovu also warned motorists to drive carefully and reduce speed immediately during a downpour.
“Even the most sophisticated vehicles can lose traction and contact with the road in only a few centimetres of water. The strength of the water flow is often more critical than the depth of the water.”
It is estimated that it will cost billions of rand to fix the damage caused by the floods in Gauteng. A rehabilitation programme has been introduced to repair roads, storm water drainage, sewer systems and electrical infrastructure, removing waste and debris and restoring water supply.
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