HEAVY RAINS, FLOODS FORE­CAST:

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Elita Chik­wati Se­nior Re­porter

THE coun­try is ex­pected to re­ceive heavy rains from to­mor­row up to Tues­day next week with a pos­si­bil­ity of flood­ing in some ar­eas, the Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Ser­vices Depart­ment has warned.

The weather or­gan­i­sa­tion has since ad­vised re­spon­si­ble au­thor­i­ties to be high on alert as many peo­ple might need as­sis­tance.

The Civil Pro­tec­tion Unit has also warned of pos­si­ble land­slides in hilly slopes in sus­cep­ti­ble ar­eas.

Farm­ers are likely to suf­fer heavy leach­ing and dam­age to their crop as a re­sult of flood­ing and heavy down­pours.

In a state­ment yes­ter­day, the MSD said heavy rains in ex­cess of 90 mil­lime­tres in 24 hours were ex­pected in Mashona­land Cen­tral, Mashona­land East, Man­i­ca­land and Masvingo and ad­vised the gen­eral public to take the height­ened warn­ing se­ri­ously.

“The MSD wishes to alert the public that po­ten­tially, heav­ier rain is ex­pected to af­fect much of Mashona­land Cen­tral and East, Man­i­ca­land as well as north of Masvingo from Satur­day to Tues­day. Al­ready the ground in some ar­eas is well soaked and there­fore this fur­ther ag­gra­vates the risk of flood­ing in these ar­eas.

“We are alert­ing re­spon­si­ble au­thor­i­ties such as Civil Pro­tec­tion Unit, Po­lice, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, res­cue ser­vices in­clud­ing power util­i­ties, to be on the alert for the du­ra­tion of this pe­riod,” he said.

The depart­ment said the heavy rains would be caused by a se­ries of low pres­sure sys­tems, both in the lower and mid­dle lev­els of the at­mos­phere which is ex­pected to en­ter the coun­try through Man­i­ca­land from Mozam­bique.

“This com­bi­na­tion is con­ducive for in­creas­ing and squeez­ing the mois­ture in the coun­try, hence the in­creased pre­cip­i­ta­tion,” said the MSD.

CPU act­ing di­rec­tor Ms Sibu­sisiwe Ndlovu, said the heavy rains would sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease the risk of flood­ing as the ground was al­ready soaked.

“In most parts of the coun­try run off will be high. There will be in­creased land­slides in hilly slopes in sus­cep­ti­ble ar­eas.

“The risk of flood­ing is likely to be se­vere for ar­eas that usu­ally flood, low ly­ing ar­eas, wet­lands ar­eas close to rivers and ma­jor trib­u­taries, ar­eas close to river con­flu­ences and ar­eas that have al­ready ex­pe­ri­enced flash flood­ing this sea­son,” she said.

Ms Ndlovu said peo­ple in Man­i­ca­land and Muzara­bani should take par­tic­u­lar care and nec­es­sary pre­cau­tions dur­ing this pe­riod.

In Man­i­ca­land, all com­mu­ni­ties liv­ing in the eastern high­lands, par­tic­u­larly Chi­man­i­mani, Nyanga, Mutare, Matasa and all liv­ing in Mid­dle Sabi should be on alert. In Mashona­land Cen­tral, all com­mu­ni­ties in Muzara­bani should take nec­es­sary pre­cau­tions.

“Peo­ple should keep in­formed of weather bul­letins and closely mon­i­tor lev­els par­tic­u­larly at night and timely move to higher ground.

“Chil­dren should be su­per­vised at play, on their way to schools and from school. It is also ad­vis­able to mon­i­tor houses in case they suc­cumb to ex­ces­sive mois­ture. Do not at­tempt to cross flooded rivers and streams whether on foot or by car,” she said.

Agri­cul­ture ex­pert, Mr Ivan Craig, said the heavy rains were a chal­lenge this pe­riod as the ground was al­ready sat­u­rated.

“Heavy rains will in­crease wa­ter­log­ging, leach­ing and wash­ing away of the top soil and nu­tri­ents. Farm­ers will not be able to ap­ply fer­tiliser, her­bi­cides or pes­ti­cides as they will be washed away.

“If the rains are as­so­ci­ated with heavy winds and hail they will also thresh crops es­pe­cially maize,” he said.

Mr Craig said the rains were pos­i­tive in that wa­ter ta­ble would rise, dams would fill up and rivers would start flow­ing.

The MSD fore­cast nor­mal to above nor­mal rain­fall dur­ing the 2016/17 sea­son.

This was fol­lowed by ad­vi­sory from the SADC Re­gional Early Warn­ing Unit.

Ac­cord­ing to the SADC Early Warn­ing Unit, it was cru­cial that early plan­ning and mit­i­ga­tion pro­grammes be put in place so that com­mu­ni­ties, busi­nesses and re­spec­tive coun­tries likely to be im­pacted pre­pare as speed­ily as pos­si­ble to face the po­ten­tial threat­en­ing of the ex­treme weather and cli­mate events.

The ex­perts also warned of high chances of wa­ter borne diseases such as cholera and ty­phoid among oth­ers.

There is also the in­crease of vec­tor borne diseases such as Malaria.

Harare has al­ready suf­fered as two peo­ple have died of wa­ter-borne diseases.

Farm­ers and sup­port­ing agen­cies were ad­vised to be pre­pared for in­ci­dences of pests and diseases for both crops and live­stock. This is es­pe­cially rel­e­vant in ar­eas where spe­cific pests and diseases tend to oc­cur un­der con­di­tions of high rain­fall.

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