Keep your medicines close‚ make sure you have fresh water at hand and be prepared to run at a moment’s notice.
These are some of the tips given by KZN Cooperative Governance MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube as the province braces itself for the arrival of Cyclone DINEO. And her disaster management teams have warned that if DINEO is as bad as predicted‚ residents in the far north of the province might be forced to move into municipal halls or even into their neighbours’ houses.
“In all municipalities‚ we have town and community halls. We will also help with Wendy houses and tents. But we also encourage communities to assist by housing the affected should the cyclone strike‚” said Jonty Ndlanzi‚ head of disaster management.
He was speaking at a press conference in Durban on Wednesday afternoon. If the storm moves as predicted‚ Mozambique and eastern parts of South Africa are likely to be battered by heavy winds and torrential rains.
But Dube-Ncube – whose department overseas disaster management – said everything was under control and teams were ready for any eventuality.
“Don’t panic‚ but be alert‚” she said at the press briefing.
Flanked by district mayors of uMkhanyakude‚ Amajuba and Harry Gwala‚ she unpacked government’s and disaster management’s contingency plans ahead of the cyclone.
“We have placed all our disaster centres on high alert and we are concentrating more resources in support to the northern area of the province. We want to emphasise that this is not panic mode‚ it is preparedness mode‚” said Dube-Ncube.
She said the department had established a permanent Joint Operation Centre within the uMkhanyakude district which will be supervised by all mayors. This JOC would comprise all responders including ambulance services‚ SAPS search and rescue‚ disaster management practitioners‚ Red Cross‚ the Al-Imdaad Foundation‚ various local municipalities‚ and all government departments.
“We are having all the stakeholders on alert in case there is a need for extra capacity to intervene‚ and this includes the participation of the South African National Defence Force which will be activated via the relevant channels‚” she said.
Dube-Ncube appealed to communities in the regions that will be affected to start preparation such as being ready to evacuate when asked to do so.
“Persons with chronic illnesses such as diabetes‚ high blood pressure‚ heart diseases and asthma must ensure that their medication is easily accessible especially in the event of the need for a quick evaciation‚” she said.
She warned and advised communities in the areas that will be affected to stay indoors most of the time until it is safe.
“Stock up on canned food that may be enough to last whilst the inclement weather is happening‚” she said.
Dube-Ncube said such extreme weather conditions may cause electricity supply problems to homes and having a torch at hand would be ideal.
“Water supplies to homes may be impacted due to flooding so it’s important to have enough water to drink and cook with‚ even to flush toilet‚” .
She said motorists must fill up their vehicles to enable them to travel to safer areas. She reiterated that this was not a cause for panic and that government was prepared to assist‚ but that they are leaving nothing to chance.
“If we fail to plan we are planning to fail if something happens‚ ” she said.