Floods wreak havoc in Tsholotsho

Temba Dube Senior Reporter
TSHOLOTSHO villagers are living in fear of destitution as heavy rains continue with several homesteads having already been destroyed.
So far four people including a three-year-old baby, have been hospitalised for  injuries sustained when floods destroyed the huts they were sleeping in.

The four are from Butabubili village where 19 huts were destroyed by torrential rains on Monday.
The village was the hardest hit by floods in the district.

On Thursday, the village was inaccessible by road and a Chronicle news crew had to be assisted by an Airforce of Zimbabwe helicopter and the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) officials to reach the affected area.

As the news crew flew over the area, a scene of devastation unfolded with water surrounding the village and seemingly sealing escape routes in case of serious flooding.

Most of the maize crop was submerged in water or had gone yellow because of too much rain.
A number of huts that were demolished by the storm dotted the village and most homesteads seemed deserted.

District CPU vice-chairperson and Officer- in-Charge of Tsholotsho Police Station, Chief Inspector Muyambirwa Muzzah, said the baby’s parents needed financial assistance to have a scan done.

“Before the hut wall collapsed on the baby, he could walk, now he cannot. A yet to be determined amount of money is needed to have a scan done in Bulawayo so that treatment can commence. There are also two children aged five and 10 and a woman who have been admitted after sustaining injuries during the storm,” said Chief Insp Muzzah.

Villagers told Chronicle that continued downpours could wipe out their homes as the Meteorological Services Department has predicted more heavy rains across the country.

“We have never experienced so much heavy rain in this area. It destroyed the hut that I was sleeping in with my two children on Monday night,” said Elfina Moyo, 28.

“Water was flowing just below my waist and my children aged seven and 10 had to stand on top of the bed in the destroyed hut to avoid drowning.”

She said other families who had their homesteads destroyed were now crowded at relatives’ homes.
“The CPU has been here and they have advised people to move to higher land or vacate the area. However, this whole village is in a flood plain and if it rains heavily again, there will be no safe spot. We are living in fear that the rain might come again and kill people this time around,” Moyo added.

Badlanje Moyo, an old woman who said she did not know when she was born, said villagers risked losing livestock that was marooned across Manzamnyama River.

Authorities at Butabubili Primary School said a majority of pupils had not attended lessons this week due to the floods.
Phineas Ncube said he was the one who called the police and the CPU.

“The ground is now saturated so further rain will become run-off that will cause serious floods. Gariya Dam is spilling and more rain will cause it to flood areas to its west. This is not an exaggeration and authorities should take it seriously,” said Ncube.

He said if the dam wall bursts, serious flooding could be experienced at Gombalume, Salankomo, Butabubili,Tshitatshawa and Gariya villages 2 and 3.

Molly Sibanda, 57, said: “We have been praying for rain and it has come in abundance. Initial joy at prospective bumber harvests has turned to despair. We are now praying for it to stop.”

Tsholotsho District Administrator Nosizi Dube, who chairs the CPU, on Wednesday said at least 23 homesteads have been destroyed while about 250 families risk being swept away by flash floods in Tsholotsho District as incessant rains continue.

She said the Airforce of Zimbabwe chopper would airlift stranded villagers in Sipepa area where some affected places were not accessible.
“Those whose homesteads were destroyed are housed in schools as they lost all their belongings including food and property.” said Dube.
She said 45 homesteads needed evacuation in Mahlosi area, 70 in Mathuphula, 86 in Maphili and 50 in Mambanjeni.

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