The Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs department has placed disaster management teams on high alert following the severe warning that was issued by the South African Weather Service which indicates that large parts of KZN can expect disruptive rainfall which brings the probability of widespread flooding across large parts of the province on Thursday and Friday 5-6 January.

The weather warning which has been placed on level 9 in terms of the scale of impact and likelihood could spell disaster for communities living in low lying areas.

The Provincial Disaster Management Center has activated the Joint Operations Committee (JOC), which will meet daily with all disaster management teams from municipalities to take stock of the situation.

These rains bring the possibility of localised flooding in low lying areas, susceptible settlements, roads, and bridges.

Residents of Ethekwini, Ilembe Umgungundlovu, King Cetshwayo, uMkhanyakude are urged to pay attention to the level 9 weather warning and take all the necessary precautions.

A level 5 weather warning for disruptive rain has  also been issued for the district’s of Uthukela, uMzinyathi, Zululand, Harry Gwala, Amajuba, Ugu and parts of Umgungundlovu.

Residents in the affected areas are requested to restrict unnecessary travelling as this might place them in danger.

Parents must be vigilant and guard children so that they do not swim in rivers or go near large bodies of water.

The province of KZN has not fully recovered from the floods that took place last year, residents are urged to heed these warnings and to not take unnecessary risks.

Safety tips:

– People living in low-lying areas must take special care during storms, as sudden floods might affect them.

– They should monitor the rising water levels and evacuate the areas to a safer place or higher spot when the water level rises.

– Do not cross through flooded roads or bridges – use other routes.

– Avoid crossing low-lying bridges, streams and rivers.

– Never try to walk, swim or drive in swift-flowing water. Even if the water is 15 cm deep, it can sweep you off your feet;

– Motorist must be very careful and avoid driving through flooded areas.

– Drive to and park at safer areas.

– The public must monitor weather alerts on radio and television.

– The public should contact their ward councillor or nearest municipal disaster management centres

– Do not try to drive over a low-water bridge if water is flowing strongly across it and the ground is not visible.

– Teach your children about the dangers of floods.

– Keep your important documents in a water-resistant container.

– Keep your cell phone in close proximity to you and have emergency numbers at hand.

– Be especially vigilant at night. It is harder to recognise potentially deadly road hazards.

– Do not camp or park your car along rivers or washes, especially during heavy rains or thunderstorms.

– If you are on foot, be aware that low moving water can also be dangerous during flood conditions. If you come upon moving water, do not walk into it.

– Where possible, communities are encouraged to try to avoid contact with any flood waters. The water may be contaminated with raw sewage, oil or other dangerous substances, and may also be charged with electricity from fallen powerlines.

Issued by MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Sihle Zikalala.