Villagers stranded as storm destroys homes, crops Makoti Nyathi shows her house that was destroyed by the storm

Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, Senior Health Reporter
SCORES of villagers in Maqaqeni area of Inyathi in Bubi District, Matabeleland North Province were left homeless after heavy rain accompanied by winds destroyed their homesteads and crops.

Heavy rains this season have caused floods resulting in the loss of crops, livestock, and destruction of property – homes, schools, clinics and other key infrastructure in the country.

The Meteorological Services Department (MSD) has said the country will continue to receive more rainfall this week, brightening prospects for a good harvest this season. The bulk of rainfall in Zimbabwe and most parts of southern Africa is strongly influenced by the seasonal shifts of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) coupled with rare and episodic occurrences of cyclone-induced rains.  A Chronicle news crew yesterday visited the affected area and spoke to villagers who shared harrowing experiences of how they scurried for cover as the roofs of their homes were being blown off by the strong winds.

Some affected villagers could be seen drying their clothes which had been soaked in water.

One of the victims, Gogo Makoti Nyathi (70) who lost her two houses, is now sharing a single room with her husband and their nine grandchildren.

Meteorological Services Department

“It started raining at around 4PM and we decided to close windows and pick a few sticks as we were already making supper. Minutes later, my grandson who is in Grade Seven screamed for help as the walls of the hut where she was sleeping started collapsing,” she said.

“We watched helplessly as the roof was being blown off, windows and doors being razed down. I tried to go out, but it was already dark and there was dust all over we couldn’t clearly see.”

Gogo Nyathi said they are now in dire need of building materials and appealing for assistance.

“We are crammed in one room and the space is limited. You can imagine the discomfort of sleeping in a room with your grandchildren, some of whom are teenagers,” she said.

Heavy rains this season have caused floods

Gogo Nyathi said the family is also in need of food after bags of maize were washed away by the floods.
She said the rains had also destroyed her furniture including beds, sofas, cupboards, and wardrobe.

“One of my grandchildren suffered some cuts on his head as we scrambled to move into the only room, which was spared. We have since started moving the remaining property,” said Gogo Nyathi.

“We live off peasant farming with my husband who is aged 74 years. We still have to scoop water from some rooms which are still flooded.”

Ms Thembeni Ndlovu, who also lives with three grandchildren, said she only managed to salvage birth certificates before the rains washed away all her property.

“I was seated inside our kitchen hut with my grandchildren when a strong wind forced the open door. I peeped outside and saw the roof of one of the houses being blown off and within minutes it crumbled down,” he said.

Gogo Nyathi said the family is also in need of food after bags of maize were washed away by the floods.

‘It continued raining heavily and after some hours we managed to escape and sought refuge at my neighbour’s house.”
Ms Ndlovu said since Friday night her family has had no access to food as the rain destroyed her food storage corner.

“I tried opening storage boxes with mealie-meal, flour, salt, and sugar and realised that everything was immersed in water. My bedroom suite was also destroyed the mattress was soaked in water,” she said.

“I am only relieved that I saved our identity documents. We don’t have anything to eat at the moment and I am still in a state of shock.”

Ms Ndlovu had to pick up some of her tattered zinc roofing sheets after they were blown off and landed in the fields, about 200m away from the homestead.

“My neighbours tried to help me recover a few belongings, but I just realised there is nothing save for blankets and my mattress,” she said.

Mr Brighton Moyo said he also escaped death by a whisker. He said the zinc roofing sheets were blown away and the house was destroyed.

“I was in the main house with my wife and we escaped minutes after it started raining because we noticed that the wind was violent. We almost got injured as the zinc sheets were being blown off,” he said.

The village head Mr Khulumani Hlabangani said the thunderstorms left a trail of destruction in the area with seven families in need of assistance.

Minister July Moyo

“We have notified the district Civil Protection Unit as we are trying to mobilise food, shelter, and building materials from well-wishers to help those affected,” he said.

The Government has said it remains committed to prioritising increased disaster risk management including early warning systems and contingency planning to enhance the country’s preparedness.

Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo recently said regional and national early warning systems continue monitoring and advising them to foster readiness for all hazards associated with the current rainfall season.

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