Assessment teams to tally flood damage

Pretoria – As the heavy rainfall seen over the last few weeks subsides, rescue and assessment teams are now expected to evaluate the damage caused by the inclement weather.

Head of the National Disaster Management Centre within the Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Ken Terry, on Monday said the department could not yet predict the costs of the flood damage prior to the assessment being conducted.

“The preliminary investigation will [indicate that]. After that, when the formal investigation and assessment (teams) go with the professional engineers, we will get a more realistic assessment on what the total cost of the damage is,” Terry said at a media briefing, adding that the information would be available within the next few days.

Large parts of the country have in the past two weeks been subjected to heavy rainfall, particularly in the North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.

According to a Cogta report, the current disaster events have resulted in 32 fatalities.

Six fatalities were also caused by lightning and one person died due to a collapsed wall in KwaZulu-Natal. A number of people have been rescued from the roofs of their vehicles and several trapped in their homes.

Cogta Deputy Minister Andries Nel said the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) – through the National Joint Operational and Intelligence (NATJOINT) structure – will continue with search and rescue efforts and humanitarian relief.

“Support is largely provided by municipalities and provinces in collaboration with the Provincial Joint Structures. Rescue and search services remain on high alert. All other services, including aerial support, were always on standby but as of [today], they will stand down and be on normal standby,” Deputy Minister Nel said.

He noted that to date, only Limpopo has indicated its intention to declare a state of local disaster in the Waterberg District Municipality.

“Municipalities or provinces that want to declare a disaster may qualify for national financial support,” he said.

The budget for provincial and municipal disaster grants was R540 million for the current financial year. So far, half of the amount has been spent on declared disasters, and about R200 million is left.

Deputy Minister Nel said the NDMC remains in close contact with the Water Affairs Department in order to continue issuing early warning alerts with regards to dam levels and river flows.

The centre also liaises with the South African Weather Service regarding weather alerts.

“All relevant Joint Operation Centres will also continue to be activated until an assurance by the South African Weather Service that no further above normal rainfalls are expected across the country,” said Deputy Minister Nel. –

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My ethos is espoused in the words of Nelson Mandela: “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the idea of a democratic and free society. If need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

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