Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
MS Marian Shumba of Woodlands Phase 1 in Gweru cut a forlorn figure standing outside her house next to some sofas that had been drenched by flash floods that swept through the suburb following a heavy downpour leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.
She said she lost most of her property and her three children were left without any food and blankets, while a health disaster looms as it has been four days since council stopped pumping water to the suburb.
“We are surviving on support from our relatives in the neighbouring village. This is very sad for us. We are cold, hungry and confused,” said Ms Shumba.
She is one of hundreds of residents in Gweru who slept very late, or sought shelter from fellow residents or churches or didn’t sleep at all as floods swept through the city following a four-hour downpour which resulted in flash floods on Tuesday evening.
From 4PM to 8PM, heavy rains pounded Gweru causing flash floods which have destroyed residents’ precast walls, gardens, and infrastructure.
Ms Shumba, a tenant at a house in Woodlands together with four others, was forced to seek refuge at the local Nazarene Church while co-tenants sought shelter from fellow residents.
“We received heavy rainfall yesterday (Monday) which caused flooding which swept through our house.
Every room is affected and as you can see, there are sofas, blankets out there to dry up.
Some of the tenants here went and slept at a local church up there while I had to send my children to a friend’s house so that I could watch our property overnight.
We pray it doesn’t rain today because if it does, the sofas will be damaged.
We also lost food and other valuables,” she said.
“We are surviving on support from our relatives in the neighbouring village.
This is very sad for us.
Some of us took loans to farm.
We are highly indebted and confused.’’
The Midlands Provincial Civil Protection Unit led by the secretary for provincial affairs and devolution Mr Abiot Maronge, Gweru City Council acting town clerk Mr Vakayi Douglas Chikwekwe and Vungu Rural District Council chief executive officer Mr Alex Magura went around Gweru to check on the damage caused by the flash floods yesterday morning.
The team visited Tinshel, Ascot Extension, Mkoba 6 suburbs among other areas that were hard hit by the flash floods.
In Mkoba 6, Mr Thomas Chikomba, who is looking after seven people including his wife, children and other relatives said during the rainy season, life is always very miserable for him and his family.
He explained that while he hoped for a bumper harvest, floods submerged his plot.
“From 5PM I was out in the rain battling to keep the flood out of my house and it was difficult. I slept around 11PM and was exhausted,” Mr Chikomba said.
“My maize crop was completely washed away.”
Mr Abel Sibanda from Ascot suburb said they are only grateful that so far no one lost their lives due to the floods.
“We are making a plea to Gweru City Council to divert the water and dig trenches to ensure that we are safe.
This is an annual thing and we need it to be solved like yesterday,” he added.
Mr Maronge said there was a need to address the issue of drainage systems in Gweru.
“We came here to see for ourselves the plight of our people.
We have a functional civil protection unit and we believe these people deserve some solace from their misery.
It’s unfortunate that we have to face the same problems over and over again without a reasonable solution in sight.
We are going to engage the responsible authorities to ensure we get the intended answers,” he said.
Mr Maronge said he was happy that some land developers were putting drainage systems in their areas.