SA must prepare for disasters
SOUTH Africa has been lashed by unprecedented tornadoes over the past week; first in Gauteng and then KwaZulu-Natal. On Monday a tornado passed through Mogale City, ripping the roof off the Cradlestone Mall and Protea Ridge School, sending trees tumbling to the ground and leaving a number of people dead.
On Tuesday it was eThekwini’s turn, with torrential rain, vehicles up to their doorhandles in water and container ships rocking in the port.
There are disaster areas but also stories of heroes among those involved in rescue and relief operations.
South Africans have shown their generosity in helping neighbours in need with collections, temporary accommodation and meals provided in affected areas.
And, while there has been water everywhere, Cape Town continues to face the reality that its water supplies are fast running out – perhaps even before the much-vaunted desalination plants can become operational to at least create drinking water from the sea.
The extremes may seem quite disparate and the truth of our country is that we have always been one of extremes – of harsh, merciless droughts followed by stormy periods.
The problem is that we seem to have done nothing much to properly prepare for it.
We seem to have insufficient warning of imminent dangerous weather conditions and still far too many people who live in high-risk areas, or do not evacuate homes or stay off the roads even when advised to do so.
And as a country, have we done enough to gather for the lean times, to harvest and store water and keep it clean.
This is a water-scarce country and the latest events are a sign of climatic change affecting the world at large.
We should see the storms as a warning sign of the power of nature and of the need to do something to ensure we are prepared and protected to face it.