Mashudu Netsianda in Binga
MORE than 30 homesteads in Lusulu under Chief Sinamagonde in Binga District were destroyed after a heavy downpour preceded by a violent thunderstorm and strong winds hit the area on Sunday.
In a chaotic 15 minutes that villagers said felt like a lifetime, the storm laid waste to a majority of homes and left occupants terrified.
Although no lives were lost, at least 200 villagers have become destitute following the natural disaster. Widows, and orphans were among those affected.
Elderly people in the area said the storm was the most destructive they had ever seen in their lives.
Chronicle yesterday visited families who are now exposed to the elements and the victims gave harrowing experiences of how they scurried for cover as their roofs were being blown off by the strong winds.
They narrated how they tried in vain to save property before realising their lives were also at risk.
Ms Tryphine Ngwenya (24) said fear engulfed her as the incident unfolded shortly after 1PM. The roof of her three-roomed house was completely blown away.
She said she was inside her house with her two-year-old son.
“It was a terrifyingly violent storm. I could feel the foundation of my house shaking as the structure took a pounding from driving rain and strong winds,” she said.
“Minutes later, the wind tore off the roof and bits of plaster rained into the house. I have never been so afraid. I watched helplessly as the roof and trusses of my entire house were blown off. My son was screaming. I thought of rushing to my in-laws place but couldn’t because the winds were very strong and violent while the rain blinded me.”
Ms Ngwenya lost stocks of maize meal and the entire roofing sheets were damaged beyond repair.
She is now staying with her in-laws.
Another victim, Ms Fortune Javure, a widow, said she had no words to describe the horror of her experience.
Neighbours helped her remove some of the household property, which had been soaked in water after the wind damaged the roof of her house extensively.
“We had to quickly remove the furniture which was in the affected rooms. Some of the property was heavily soaked by water while some of the electric gadgets were also damaged. It’s a relief that I was not injured as I managed to escape together with my four children,” she said.
“The rains lasted about 15 minutes but they caused severe damage and I am still in a state of shock. I don’t even know how I will raise money to replace the damaged property since I am a widow.”
Government’s rapid response teams led by the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) donated 50kg bags of maize to the victims per household.
Village head Mr Steve Javure said the strong winds, which were preceded by heavy rains between Saturday and Sunday had never been experienced in the area before.
He said some villagers lost grain and medication.
“This has never happened in this area and it’s sad that we have people who lost their property and food. Most villagers will not recover after this devastating natural phenomenon,” he said.
A Chronicle news crew visited the affected areas and saw homes that had been become uninhabitable. Trees uprooted by the strong winds could be seen lying in the vicinity. Debris of the damaged roofing sheets were strewn all over the place.
Ms Catherine Parirahungee, a mother of eight, said she “miraculously” rescued her three children who were playing outside when the rain suddenly lashed the area.
“I grabbed my three children aged 6, 4 and two months and rushed to a place of safety when I discovered that the violent storm was raging. My hubby watched from a distance as the roof of our main house was blown away,” she said.
Said Ms Sanelisiwe Ngwenya, who is seven months pregnant: “I was busy washing dishes when the rain started and all I could see were pieces of roofing sheets being blown off as I watched from my kitchen hut. It was like a movie and even up to now I am still traumatised.”
Another victim, Ms Sophia Ndlovu, also a widow, lost three bags of maize which were kept in the granary after the facility was completely damaged.
Acting Binga District Development Coordinator Mr Farai Marinyame said they were still mobilising resources to assist the victims
He said food aid was urgently needed to avert starvation.