AT LEAST 257 families in Manicaland have already been evacuated to safe places by the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) as tropical cyclone Eloise made landfall just south of Beira in Mozambique yesterday, threatening possible disruptive rain and flooding in the country.
According to the Meteorological Services Department (MSD) and CPU, the storm will continue to press inland over this weekend, bringing along heavy rains and gusty winds into the country and some parts of South Africa.
This comes as water levels in dams across the country have risen significantly this month pointing to inevitable spilling in the coming few days as heavy rains in the catchment area continue to push more inflows into the water body.
CPU director Nathan Nkomo told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that the Eastern Highlands and Manicaland are areas that could be affected the most as the cyclone gets closer.
“It has landed in Mozambique and as you are aware we had prepared for previous tropical depression Charlene so we are fighting using similar logistics. In Eastern Highlands there are already heavy downfalls. We have since activated the same teams that were on the ground during the tropical depression Charlene. Most provinces that are likely to be affected by this cyclone are Manicaland, Eastern Highlands, Masvingo and Matabeleland South among others.
“In Manicaland we have already evacuated 257 families who are housed at Mutambara High School, Lydia Chimonyo School as well as St Patricks High School and Primary Schools in Chimanimani.
“We have also activated our teams in Masvingo and have since sent six buses to evacuate people to safer places. In Matabeleland South we have 10 buses to help evacuate people as well. As for the other provinces including Harare we have also activated our response teams. In Harare we are hoping to evacuate 90 families mostly from Budiriro where we have always had problems in previous years.”
Nkomo said the exercise is being carried out in line with the prevailing coronavirus regulations.
“We are carrying out this exercise within the auspices of Covid-19 and we are following all the World Health guidelines. People are being tested. I’m also happy to say Zinwa is on high alert and is monitoring the situation. People in the downstream have already been notified to be on high alert,” he said.
Nearly two years ago, Cyclone Idai battered Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe and left more than 1,000 people dead and caused a humanitarian crisis in the region.
All this comes as Zinwa is closely monitoring the situation at most of the country’s dams whose levels continue to swell, raising the spectre of flooding in downstream areas.
Some of the families at the banks of Tugwi-Mukosi Dam were evacuated recently as Zimbabwe’s largest inland dam had surpassed 96 percent full triggering fears of floods soon.
It is a similar case at most dams across the country where most dams are approaching full capacity.