Over 24 people have been confirmed dead mostly in the Chimanimani area which appears to be the most hard hit over the weekend as the catastrophic effects of cyclone Idai continues to take its toll on citizens. A somber mood all but summarized a weekend many people lost their lives and households as, once again we have failed to respond to a natural disaster.
Cyclone Idai has been characterized by incessant rains and winds that have resulted in the movement of rocks and boulders resulting in mudslides that have swept away people. As the news filtered in that St Charles Lwanga of Chimanimani had lost two learners and a guard, that a Chipinge school had lost a school head and his family, and as well that relatives had lost their beloved ones in the aftermath of this cyclone, a somber mood engulfed the province as people tried to come to terms with the nature of our preparedness in the wake of such natural disasters.
The social media which is usually abuzz with jokes was this weekend turned into a valuable information hub as citizens teamed up to offer condolences and support to the affected and already resources are being pooled up to assist victims. Through the social media, the effects of the cyclone suddenly became a living reality, especially when it dawned on residents that innocent learners and their guard had suddenly become the latest victims. Speaking in a telephone interview with our sister station Radio Chiedza, Manicaland Catholic Education Secretary Mr Lawrence Chibvuri confirmed that two learners had passed on at the school which is surrounded by boulders and rocks. Mr Chibvuri was quoted saying, “We have already notified the parents of the affected learners and we are hoping that we will move the rest of the learners to Mutare and temporarily close the school.”
A school head at a school in Chipinge was swept away in the middle of the night along with his family. It is indeed a sad loss to the education fraternity and the community. And villagers from other areas like Copper, Nyahode, to name but a few were not spared either as their households were washed away, while a police post was reportedly blown away in the rains.
Several bridges have been swept away, notably the Tanganda Bridge, a bridge along the Chimanimani road before the Matsororo Bridge, and the giant Birchenough Bridge was nearly over- flowing with the water level dangerously rising to alarming levels. Closer to home, in Mutare, the trail of destruction could be noted as several trees were uprooted, while the roads were massively damaged. As people lamented the loss of lives, questions lingered in the air whether we did enough to prepare for this disaster.
A citizen in Mutare who refused to be named said, “Once again we failed to prepare for this cyclone despite the fact that we knew about it well in advance. The Civil Protection Unit appears to be under funded hence it may have been difficult for them to mobilize resources to move people to safer places,” he said.
As rescue operations continue, the National Army was reportedly making frantic efforts to help people who were still marooned in waterlogged areas and efforts to airlift them were exacerbated by the misty and rainy weather which appears to be dangerous for helicopters to move.
Several initiatives are now in place to fundraise for the survivors with the Mutare based Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and the Presbyterian Church, among other religious and non religious denominations spearheading the mobilization of resources. As the rains continue, distress calls have been heard from areas surrounding Mutare as fears are abound that the cyclone will spread and affect other areas. Citizens are called upon to remain vigilant and assist each other as much as possible.
- Due to network challenges it has been difficult to upload pictures.