Media Statements

Government on High Alert and Activating Emergency Response Systems Amid Heavy Rains in KwaZulu Natal

The Intergovernmental Committee on Disaster Management (ICDM), chaired by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, met today to take updates on the current rains and inclement weather experienced in parts of KwaZulu-Natal as well as assess the state of readiness and activations in place.

The ICDM is established in terms of Section 4 of the Disaster Management Act, 57 of 2002 (DMA) to give effect to the principles of the cooperative government enshrined in Chapter 3 of the Constitution. This committee deals with issues relating to disaster management and is accountable to Cabinet on the coordination of disaster management across the three spheres of government.

The meeting follows heavy rainfall experienced in KwaZulu-Natal and other parts of the country. South African Weather Service has advised that the status of the weather warning level has increased to level 10 which is the highest.

In some parts KZN province, water levels on the roads and rivers have reached dangerously high levels and are projected to continue to rise as the severity of the rain is expected to diminish only on Monday, 23 May 2022, with snow warnings issued for some parts of the province.

The current rains are compounding an already dire situation due to the recent floods, especially in KZN province, wherein the ground is still saturated and can therefore easily be flooded.

Upon receiving early warnings from the South African Weather Services, municipalities and relevant stakeholders in the province activated coordinating structures and contingency plans. The provincial Joint Operation Centre has also been activated to meet regularly to monitor the situation and coordinate response measures.

Government through the departments such as Social Development, Defence Force, South African Police Service, and other social partners are working with disaster management teams across the province to monitor the high-risk areas, determine the extent and level of risk, evaluate damages where they exist and provide immediate relief to needy communities.

Government is concerned about the impact that these rains are likely to have on communities. Those at risk are being identified so that they can be assisted with the evacuation. Additional shelters are being sought in this regard, with some families having already been evacuated.

The ICDM cautions and requests people to adhere to the following guidelines:

· Be aware of your surroundings as the rains can rapidly change the situation;

· Persons staying in flood-prone areas should take extra precautions;

· Avoid crossing flooded rivers and streams;

· People should not walk into water that is above the ankle as it can be dangerous;

· Move away from the overhanging river and streams banks as this could be dangerous;

· In buildings, move valuables to a safe place above the expected flood level and switch off electricity at the supply point of the building;

· If evacuation is recommended, residents must heed the call and follow the instructions;

· Animals should be protected or relocated to a safe place on higher ground;

· Listen to the radio or TV, where possible, for warnings and obey the instructions of emergency personnel and disaster management officers;

· Take special care of children; know where they are at all these times; keep them away from flooded streams and rivers;

· Drivers are urged to reduce speed on the roads;

· Do not drive on roads that are totally covered by water. If the vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground and be cautious especially at night as it is not easy to recognise flood dangers;

· In cases where snow is experienced, stay indoors and keep warm;

· Keep your cellphone in close proximity and have emergency numbers at hand.

The ICDM has made a call for people to remain indoors during the duration of the rains. People are requested to urgently report any incident of drowning that they might see and are urged to refrain from attempting their own rescue as this might have catastrophic consequences.

Disaster and Emergency Services can be contacted on ‪031 361 0000‬

Lungi Mtshali
Cell: ‪082 088 5060