Destructive tropical storm Eloise officially declared a national disaster

Rescue SA volunteer Connor Hartnady swims through rapids in the Blyde River during the search for the body of a man washed away in floods following storm Eloise. The body was found shortly after this photograph was taken.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

The government has declared tropical storm Eloise a national disaster.

The decision, in line with the Disaster Management Act, was contained in a government gazette published on Friday.

The tropical storm caused widespread destruction, mainly in the eastern parts of SA including Mpumalanga, parts of Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal.

According to the notice, Dr Mmaphaka Tau, head of the National Disaster Management Centre, said: “After assessing the magnitude and severity of the damage in various provinces caused by strong winds and floods due to tropical storm Eloise and summer seasonal rains, and after having considered the information and recommendations received from the respective provincial disaster management centres and national sector departments in the national joint flood co-ordinating committee, hereby give notice that, in terms of section 23(1)(b) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act No. 57 of 2002), I classified the occurrence as a national disaster.

“Emanating from the classification of this occurrence as a national disaster … the primary responsibility to co-ordinate and manage this disaster, in terms of existing legislation and contingency arrangements, is designated to the national executive.”

Tau called on “all relevant organs of state to further strengthen and support the existing structures to implement contingency arrangements and ensure that measures are put in place to enable the national executive to effectively deal with the effects of this disaster”.

Last week, the Mpumalanga government indicated it needed at least R425m to repair damage caused by heavy rains that ravaged parts of the province in the past few weeks.

More than 1,000 families in affected areas are counting the costs of the tropical storm which washed away bridges and roads, caused mudslides and ripped apart homes.

At least 13 people died.

by Suthentira Govender

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