The civil protection unit (CPU) in Zimbabwe has commenced the evacuation of people in the eastern parts of the country who are most vulnerable to tropical storm Chalene, which is expected to make landfall on Wednesday.
The storm has reached the Mozambique Channel and according to the meteorological services, it was expected to intensify before making landfall in central Mozambique.
It is thereafter expected to sweep into Zimbabwe later in the day, and is most likely to affect most parts of the country if it continues with its detected intensity.
A small farming town called Chimanimani which is in the surrounding areas bordering Mozambique, is still reeling from the effects of the devastating Cyclone Kenneth and Cyclone Idai from last year and Cyclone Dineo in 2017, has started evacuations.
Fears have begun to mount even before the storm arrives, as some areas such as Chibuwe village are already experiencing floods due to heavy downpour.
“We are being relocated from our tents, where we have been staying since Cyclone Idai last year, to safer centres,” said Witness Gambire, 35, from Nyamusundu.
Chimanimani member of parliament Joshua Sacco said clinics had been provided with medicine from the ministry of health and there were teams on sground to rescue people if they were stranded on the roads. He however advised that people should avoid travelling to areas where it was expexted that the storm will hit hard.
In the danger zones, schools and churches have been offered as shelter to those evacuated. The government said it has availed $30m (R439.8m) for disaster response.
Mutare which is the fourth-largest city in the country was also been put on high alert.
A statement from the municipality read “People in low-lying areas of Mutare such as Zimta and Bernwin and those living in temporary accommodation such as Federation and Kimboki are being advised to find alternative accommodation before disaster strikes”.
On Monday, the meteorological services department (MSD) said the incoming storm could be as powerful as Cyclone Dineo which hit in 2007.
The destruction caused by Dineo was an estimated 20,000 homes in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, which led to the displacement of at least 130,000 people.
As a result, there was widespread flooding in Zimbabwe’s Mutare, Chiredzi and Beitbridge, floods in Botswana and a cholera outbreak that hit both Mozambique and Malawi.
Malawi’s department of disaster management affairs gave the assurance that the country was prepared to respond to the storm.
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